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A Coordination Action on ICT vulnerabilities of power system and the relevant defence methodologies

A Coordination Action on ICT vulnerabilities of power system and the relevant defence methodologies

The European power system has been developed in the past 50 years independently by every single country, therefore it is basically a set of interconnected national subsystems.

Growing integration of the European electricity market with high level of cross-border exchanges was out of the scope of the original system design. This has led Transmission System Operators to operate the system close to its security limits. Control and protection of the power grid is more and more dependant on distributed and interconnected computer systems. Security challenges for the power grid partly arise from this increasing complexity, autonomy and interoperability. Recent blackouts can be seen in this general context. Power grid vulnerabilities are European wide problems, they cannot be solved individually but require a coordinated European effort.

EU power systems are undergoing an in-depth restructuring so as to cope with enlargement, open access and progressive integration of the EU electricity market and intensification of cross border trade. Emergent control technologies, making intensive use of Information and Communication technologies (ICT), appear to be potentially useful for dealing with this new situation. But their full application will demand a new approach to system design and operation. Indeed, their integration within existing control infrastructures and practices is a real challenge. These factors contribute to increase power system vulnerabilities, in a worldwide scenario where malicious threats against large and complex infrastructures are increasing.

ICT are used for various power system applications such as monitoring and control, protection coordination, and other vital functions. While they have the potential of further improving system operation, flexibility, security margins and overall cost, they are subject to threats (both malicious and accidental) not fully understood, especially those deriving from the interaction with the power system infrastructure, thus introducing additional vulnerabilities that should be accurately assessed. GRID aimed at establishing a roadmap for collaborative R&D on power grid security, also based on exchange of information about national, regional and European research projects.

Collaborative research programmes might benefit from a mutual exchange of approaches, experiences, and results. However, cross fertilisation may be hampered by existing barriers of an institutional, socio-economic and technical nature.