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Title:Securing distributed energy resource integration
Author(s):Culler, Megan Jordan
Advisor(s):Levchenko, Kirll; Sauer, Peter
Department / Program:Electrical & Computer Eng
Discipline:Electrical & Computer Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):distributed energy resources
battery storage
cyber-physical security
renewable energy
smart grid
Abstract:The penetration of distributed energy resources (DER) is growing at much higher rates than predicted 20 years ago. Far from being used only in residential settings, DER are now installed on distribution and transmission circuits. In this position, they do not have the same properties as traditional generators and are more flexible in many cases. The growing penetration and range of uses for DER motivate the need to reliably and safely integrate them into the grid. Operators must be able to rely on them not only for normal operation, but also during abnormal conditions like black starts or adverse cyber scenarios. To that end, we study the communications, device interfaces, and potential consequences of DER operation under abnormal and adversarial conditions. The weaknesses of communications networks are studied based on the industrial protocols used, and the benefits of security features are examined. The device interfaces are found to be vulnerable to attack based on the requirements in the IEEE-1547 standard for DER interconnection and interoperability, which is expected to be adopted in the next ten years. In addition to exploring the requirements of the standard, we show that these vulnerabilities and others do exist and can be used maliciously in a modern storage system DER. Consequences of these vulnerabilities range from exacerbated grid instability, to simultaneous loss of large portions of DER penetration, to physical damage to inverters or DER themselves and other sensitive equipment. We tie these outcomes to specific attacker actions in an effort to give operators a better threat intelligence view that allows them to prioritize mitigations. Finally, we discuss mitigations that could prevent many of the adversarial scenarios described. Some solutions can be added to existing infrastructure, while others may require longer term planning for grid modernization with consideration for security.
Issue Date:2021-04-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Megan Jordan Culler
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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