Power and Energy

 

Nowadays most companies in the industrial sector have established a highly connected production infrastructure, in which production-related devices and equipments such as PLCs are interconnected to enhance productivity and cost-efficiency. This unprecedented connectedness is now referred as Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) and many enterprises in manufacturing, healthcare and utility generation have taken advantage of this technology. However, when mission-critical devices are connected to the Internet, this exposes vulnerability for potential intrusions. In fact, according to recent research, over 80% of the surveyed companies have realized the expenses for being hacked, and many of them had even experienced various types of cyber-threats.

In recent years, utility plant owners have been investigating opportunities and strategies to bring intelligence into substations to enable smart grid paradigm. In a typical digitalized substation, it is obvious to see robust embedded computing gateways with high-performance compute, networking and storage have been integrated to enable control and monitoring of substations. Intelligent HMIs (human-machine interfaces) terminals and protocol-authenticating servers are used to enable communications. All these have contributed to the increasing complexity and footprint of SCADA management in substations.

According to the latest published research by Kaspersky about industrial cyber security, a wide majority of surveyed organizations have expressed concerns about OT (operational technology) security. However, only one-third of the survey respondents have deployed some degrees of OT security. Such findings have clearly revealed the vulnerability of utility-generating and mission critical organizations. Apparently, with such level of protection, any deliberate attack like DDoS would devastate a country’s supply of electricity, water, petroleum or gas. In short, the OT asset management remains a challenge for ICS (industrial control system) and SCADA owners and is apparently vulnerable.

Most of today’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) networks have replaced proprietary protocols with TCP/IP connections in order to reduce operational costs, improve interoperability and productivity, and accelerate deployment times for mission-critical infrastructures. In fact, such technological transformations have continued as owners and management of utility infrastructures demand higher degree of visibility, seamless remote management, and IT/OT convergence

Electrical mobility is expected to enjoy a continuous momentum, thanks to policies in countries with leading economic status implementing either incentives or restrictions. For instance, some countries would ban the use of fuel-consuming vehicles while others provide economical measures to encourage vehicle owners to make a replacement with EV (electric vehicles). Indeed, advanced countries and developing countries have the common objective to reach a zero/low – emission transportation. However, EV growth may be challenged by the concern of “range anxiety”, as some EV owners have the fear of insufficient range to reach their destinations. To counter this fear, there is an increasing number of EC charging stations and some of them offer fast-charging functions.

Cyber threats to critical infrastructures shall be taken more serious than ever, as the number of attack incidents has increased and penetrated nuclear plants, and then oil, gas and energy sectors. On the other hand, hydroelectric has remained as one of the most reliable renewable source of energy for the past years.

Every industry has its own challenges, but for wind farm operators, these challenges come supersized. The Energy industry is one that has been quick to capture the benefits brought about by digitization. In fact, CIOs reported that in 2019, their primary technology focus is on data analytics, including predictive analytics. Implementing IoT to collect and analyze data can improve the performance and effectiveness of individual wind turbines.

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