Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Editor’s Note: Following is a post from Andy Bochman, a smart grid security expert from IBM, and a new contributor to the Smarter Planet blog.

Jeju Island. Image courtesy of Korea Times.

Jeju Island. Image courtesy of Korea Times.

Whether it’s to do with price volatility, supply uncertainty or climate change, countries achieve greater energy security when they reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and begin to replace them with a combination of energy efficiency measures and renewable power sources.

In developed countries, to support greatly increased use of renewables and capture efficiency savings in the transmission and distribution of electricity requires an update to aging power grids – to arrive at a destination now commonly referred to as the Smart Grid.

What do I mean by “aging”? In North America, some of our electrical infrastructure assets (not to mention human assets) are over 50 years old, and one can find equipment (and humans running grid systems) of a similar vintage in Europe and other fully developed regions as well.

But in emerging and rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil, lots of infrastructure is being built from scratch, with modern equipment that’s IT and IP enabled and based upon recently formed and forming interoperability standards.

What’s a security guy think about this?  This is a huge opportunity for baking security in from the get-go, yielding the fielding of secure grid systems, as well as for costs savings realized from not having to bolt security on later on.  They don’t have to recapitulate all the tortuous intermediate phases the US is going through trying to add security to systems that were never designed to accommodate it.

There’s no denying these markets are taking steps.  Today IBM announced it has developed a new technology, now piloted with Shanghai Power (part of China’s State Grid, the largest utility in the world), to help energy companies manage power outages more effectively. Since the project’s completion, Shanghai Power’s sale of electricity has increased by 50 million kWh per month, which is equal to an incremental revenue of 35 million Yuan (US$5.1 million) a month.

And move across the map to South Korea… IBM also announced its involvement in a renewable energy management system on Jeju Island, part of a smart grid project in South Korea that is moving right along.

These are only two example that show how systems are being built and modified to withstand the energy demand and need for efficiency we no doubt face.

Regarding security the choice is in their (these countries’) hands.  IBM can help them achieve more secure solutions with its Secure by Design frameworks.  But it’s up to them to decide that’s how they want to be.  It’s nice to know to  it’s possible.

Andy is the energy lead for IBM Software and author of the Smart Grid Blog. He can also be found on Twitter.

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