Government plans to create a smart grid for energy networks will require a coordinated focus on cybersecurity as communication networks play a key role, according to a report from The Energy Networks Association (ENA).
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The ENA published the report for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is responsible for the energy smart grid. The findings of the research, which was carried out by consultancy KEMA, revealed that the government and network providers need a more "coherent and joined-up approach" to secure the smart grid.
Security a top priority in smart grid development
The report outlines how the smart grid will affect networks and describes how cybersecurity should be an important consideration when developing the smart grid's architecture, technology and management systems.
For example, the report says: "ICT security, along with computing system reliability, safety and maintainability, are critical attributes for smart grid implementation and operation, and need to be considered as part of overall risk management for this critical national infrastructure."
Coordinating the smart grid project
Last week, the IT sector, under the wing of Intellect, got involved in the smart grid debate with the launch of cross-industry organisation SmartGrid GB. This group brings together IT companies, environmental organisations, government, regulators and consumer groups. It will coordinate the multiple stakeholders and advise the government.
Robert McNamara, energy and environment programme manager at Intellect, is SmartGrid GB's manager. He welcomed the report: "A lot of data will be transported on the smart grid and through smart metering. It is absolutely imperative that security is the number one priority."
IT suppliers invited to bid for smart grid contracts
The DECC has already put a notice out to IT suppliers informing them to be ready to bid for work. A new company will be set up to manage the data that smart meters send and receive. The central data and communications company (DCC), as it is known, will require services from IT and communication service providers.
The smart grid project involves using smart meters in the home to help consumers control their energy usage. But a survey, which was commissioned by smart meter technology provider T-Systems and carried out by the Economist Intelligence unit, revealed antipathy towards the government's plans to roll out smart meters to 30 million homes by 2020. Consumers are more concerned about the financial costs of using smart meters than the environmental costs of inefficient energy use.