National Renewable Energy Lab, six industry organizations focus on cybersecurity with new wind consortium

Published on May 03, 2021 by Chris Galford

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently joined with six industry organizations in creating the Nation Wind Cybersecurity Consortium to advance the protection of the U.S. wind fleet.

The partners include large players in the field, including General Electric, Siemens Gamesa, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ørsted, and Vestas. While they can provide real-world data and industry-relevant use cases, in return, they will gain access to NREL’s research, with an end goal of collaborative analysis, development, and information-sharing arrangements.

“This collaboration brings the unique opportunity for Berkshire Hathaway Energy to evaluate today’s most pressing security challenges to the wind energy sector while learning from the perspectives of our partner organizations,” Jeffrey Baumgartner, senior advisor at Berkshire Hathaway Energy, said. “With access to NREL’s research platforms, we can safely explore these perspectives and evaluate a multitude of cyber threats and potential consequences to wind systems across the United States.”

What’s more, efforts by the public-private partnership will be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and the department’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). It will be used to help develop a platform for improving wind energy threat intelligence.

Like all digitally linked and energy required items, wind turbines come with vulnerabilities to cyber intrusion, which means the industry needs to work to maintain resiliency to avoid cyber-related disruption to the grid of which they are connected.

“Government-industry partnerships like this are critical as we modernize grid systems,” Pete MacKay, senior director of security architecture at GE Renewable Energy, said. “The labs help facilitate collaboration between equipment manufacturers and their end-users. In this manner, we can harmonize and refine effective security controls for wind systems that are prepared for future threat scenarios.”