devolo SmartGrid is stepping up security in data transmission in the SEnCom research project
The intelligent energy network demands comprehensive data communication where security plays a central role. devolo AG, as the leading developer and manufacturer of products for data communication and data security in the smart grid, is putting the issue of data security in focus with the project "System security of energy supply networks through the integration of information and communication technology" (SEnCom). The goal of the project is to define the standards and technologies for secure and reliable network operation in a variety of power engineering components from the areas of status monitoring, control and regulation. devolo AG is developing the technology of the future along with a strong partner network of universities of technology, including the Institute for High Voltage Technology at RWTH Aachen University, RheinMain University of Applied Sciences and Bremen University of Applied Sciences and the industry partner, the P3 Group. The project has a runtime of two years and is supported with approximately 1.5 million euros by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the funding announcement "Zukunftsfähige Stromnetze" (future-proof power grids).
Security as a central challenge in the smart grid
Trouble-free data communication is essential for operating the intelligent energy network. The many decentralised feed points in the smart grid can cause heavy load fluctuations if the individual generators are not co-ordinated in relation to consumption in real time.
At the distribution network level, special security-related challenges are faced for communication technology. Frequently, photovoltaic systems or combined heat and power plants are used in residential households; here, system-relevant communication interfaces are almost freely accessible.
To ensure interference-free network operation, the SEnCom project is analysing and testing automatic defence against unauthorised intrusions.
In focus: Security at the distribution network level
As part of various model experiments, system-relevant repercussions due to attacks on the distribution network are to be examined and concrete solutions are to be developed for maximum system stability. The first step of the two-year project is the "analysis of possible attack scenarios on the communication structure". The second step is to design and build a demonstrator. Here, as part of an electric distribution network established by the ‘Testing Centre Electric Mobility‘ at RWTH Aachen University, the unauthorised access attempts determined in the first step are tested on the mains supply. The third step focuses on analysing the effects of ICT threat scenarios on the distribution network level.
"devolo has gathered an enormous amount of expertise in secure data communication in the smart grid," says Heiko Harbers, CEO of devolo AG. "As part of the SEnCom project, we are going a step further and, along with reputable partners, examining possible attacks on this technology and the effects on network operation. Our mission with our products is to provide a secure and cutting-edge solution."
Strong partners for maximum protection
P3 energy & storage GmbH takes over project coordination. Project partners include P3 communications GmbH, the Institute for High Voltage Technology at RWTH Aachen University and the Universities of Applied Sciences in RheinMain and Bremen. PSI AG is participating as an associated project partner.
As a manufacturer of Powerline communication solutions, system security is the first priority for devolo, particularly with respect to new product developments. This is because the need for higher data security goes hand in hand with higher data rates. Thus, devolo is taking on a central role in the project.
Win/win strategy for project partners
SEnCom pursues the goal of a comprehensive analysis of potential dangers in intelligent networks of the future, integrating disciplines of power engineering and information and communication technologies. This procedure is to be used to develop technically and economically useful recommended actions, taking into account the requirements for network operation. "From the SEnCom project, we expect numerous interesting results that will directly impact the development of new products at devolo AG. It is a real win/win strategy for all project partners," explains Dr. Michael Koch, head of the Smart Grid business area at devolo. "In particular, our G3-PLC 500k modem will benefit from the insights on cryptography algorithms, routing algorithms and on reliable and real-time capable data transmission at the distribution network level." The G3-PLC 500k modem ensures efficient Access Powerline connection and uses the transmission bandwidth between 150 kHz and 500 kHz. Here, the Powerline benefits of long range and ideal transfer rate is combined with sufficient capacity reserves for future applications.