When new clean energy solutions are developed, ensuring that they are protected from potential cyberattacks must be top of mind.
As such, on Jan. 17 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $30 million funding opportunity to support the research, development and demonstration of “next-generation tools” to ensure that cybersecurity is incorporated into the development of such solutions.
“America’s energy delivery infrastructure is critical to our overall national and economic security,” DOE Under Secretary for Infrastructure David Crane said in the announcement.
“This funding will drive the development of next-generation cyber technologies that keep our nation at the forefront of innovation, while protecting our energy infrastructure from increasing cyberthreats,” Crane said. “This work could not be more important or timely as our nation transitions to the clean energy economy.”
The funding opportunity, listed as DE-FOA-0003223, will be awarded by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. About 10 awards will be granted, under varying amounts not to exceed $3 million in federal funding. Topic areas include:
- Improving the ability to do forensic analysis of infected renewable energy field devices including components, smart meters, sensors and control systems located in physically unprotected areas that are accessible to potential adversaries. “Forensic analysis is critical for quickly identifying the source of a cyberattack and mitigating its impact,” according to the DOE.
- Identifying and mitigating cyberthreats to inverter-based resources (IBRs), including wind and solar generation technology, as well as related energy storage and battery assets. “While IBRs play an important role in delivering clean energy to consumers, they have also become a new vector for cyberattacks,” the DOE wrote. “This RD&D effort will focus on applications and technologies to identify and mitigate these cyber vulnerabilities.”
- Improving the communications security of distributed energy resources (DERs) and distributed energy resource aggregations (DERA) that could include multiple types of DERs, such as a combination of wind, solar and storage. “The deployment of secure communications between DERs, DERA and the broader electric grid is necessary to ensure the operational stability and reliability of clean energy delivery systems,” according to the DOE.
- Strengthening the cybersecurity of virtual power plants (VPPs) that offer a deeper integration of renewables and more affordable power. “Cybersecurity RD&D is necessary to reduce the cyber-risk for VPP and to enable secure operation and management of these cloud-based systems,” the DOE wrote.
The deadline to submit applications for these awards is March 18, 2024. Contractors can obtain more detailed information on the funding opportunity, application materials and contact information for questions by visiting the Clean Energy Infrastructure Funding Opportunity Exchange website.
Awards made under DE-FOA-0003223 will use funds appropriated by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, more commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Overall, Section 40125(b) of the BIL will invest appropriations of $250 million over a five-year period from FY2022 through 2026 to develop advanced cybersecurity applications and technologies for the energy sector through several research, development and demonstration activities.