Monday, November 25, 2013

Sandia and Hayden on Cybersecurity Strategies for Micgrogrids

This DOD-relevant post comes to you courtesy of the good folks at the Smart Grid Security Blog.

First off, thanks to friend and colleague Ernie Hayden for writing a microgrid security post following his mini-immersion in the topic last week. You can read his write-up HERE.

In particular, want you to see something he linked to: SNL's Microgrid Cybersecurity Reference Architecture. That's Sandia National Labs, btw, not Saturday Night Live; talented though he is, Jimmy Fallon is not a contributor to this piece.

Note: the microgrid concept described by Sandia is principally for energy security in DOD use cases, for emergency fall-back scenarios. Not necessarily for improving day-to-day operations or achieving efficiencies or cost savings, though you get some of those as part of this.

An excerpt from the Executive Summary makes that concept clear:
The design of a microgrid control system needs to be more robust than that of a traditional industrial control system (ICS) for the following reasons: 
-- The microgrid is used in emergency situations and may be critical to continuity of operations of an installation
-- The microgrid must function during active attack by a capable adversary.
As such, the traditional design and implementation for an ICS may not be sufficient for implementing a robust and secure microgrid.
Of course, there are an increasing number of non-military microgrid use cases and a burgeoning technology and integration market that supports them. But my guess is all those civilian applications should go to school on how Sandia and the DOD are hardening theirs, and select from among those approaches security that's right for their own risk tolerance objectives.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Department of Veterans' Affairs a Solar Leader by Example

After being introduced by a mutual friend in the energy business, I had the chance to speak with a representative of the VA last week and I came away with such a great impression of this most important of government organizations.

I needn't tell you about the core mission of the VA and the central role it plays in much of what we hold near and dear as Americans: taking care of our bravest, most self-sacrificing citizens who've put themselves at great risk keeping the rest of us safe in an increasingly dangerous world.

But what I didn't know, and couldn't imagine on my own, was the massive scope of VA operations and built infrastructure.  We're talking many thousands of buildings including more hospitals and other health facilities than any other organization in the country.  Or the world.  By a mile.

The VA is doing remarkable things with solar energy, and increasingly, designing contracts that save the department money over time.  You can read more about these efforts here HERE.

I challenge you to spend a few minutes with this interactive map and see if you can find a state or US territory that's not been touched by at least one VA clean-tech project.  I don't think you'll find one.

Way to go, VA.  Keep it up !!!

Photo: Reno VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Energy Future Starting to Show Up

This is a very short post that may portend something big.  Energy storage has been the Holy Grail for the renewables sector some time now, and likely will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless ...

Apparently, a Maryland-based company has teamed to produce the "first renewable energy storage system in the U.S. capable of not only storing generation when the sun's not shining, but also delivering power to the local electric grid."

Brief article is HERE.  And re: operational energy and FOBs ... note how transportable this thing looks.