DER cybersecurity gets a $39m boost from the US Energy Department


The US Department of Energy (DOE) has revealed its latest investment towards fortifying the cybersecurity framework for distributed energy resources (DER).

On Tuesday, the DOE pledged a generous sum of $39m, set to be distributed among nine distinct National Laboratory projects, with the primary aim of strengthening the cyber-defence capabilities of the DER.

This noteworthy funding is being facilitated by the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). According to the statement released by the agency, the money will be channelled into research, development, and demonstration projects that reside within the vast expanse of the DER domain.

But what exactly is the DER? Essentially, these are systems comprising customer-owned devices. Examples include utility-scale clean tech such as solar panels, wind turbines, and storage solutions. In addition, behind-the-meter renewables, storage systems, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure are also counted under the DER umbrella.

The projects which are earmarked for this funding will largely concentrate on the creation of cybersecurity tools and technologies specifically for the DER systems. This encompasses aspects like distribution management systems, DER aggregators, and the management of distributed energy resources. Furthermore, a considerable emphasis is being placed on enhancing real-time DER operation data analytics. To achieve this, state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms will be deployed. Moreover, these projects are also set to solidify the security measures for cloud-based DER solutions.

In a more detailed financial breakdown, the Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded nearly $3.5m to develop an Intrusion Diagnostic Unit cybersecurity software tool tailor-made for DER aggregators. Meanwhile, the Brookhaven National Laboratory is receiving slightly more, at over $3.8m, to produce generic security solutions suitable for both public and hybrid cloud environments.

A host of other national laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley, National Renewable Energy, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia, are all beneficiaries of this fund, with grants earmarked for an assortment of cybersecurity projects tailored to DER needs.

The Energy Department said, “Our commitment to bolstering the cybersecurity framework for DER is unwavering. We believe this investment is a step in the right direction for the future of clean and renewable energy.”

In past financial endeavours, the Energy Department has consistently shown support for DER, but this latest investment stands as one of the more significant contributions in recent times.

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