As society’s demand for energy switches from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, the location and number of energy generation systems is changing dramatically. While in the past relatively few, large generators served virtually all electrical needs in the U.S., future demand will be served by millions of small Distributed Energy Resources (DER’s), many located on residential home rooftops, commercial buildings, or land that is closer to energy demand. On the regulatory front, important standards, like IEEE 1547-2018 at the federal level or California Rule 21 or Hawaii Rule 14H as the state level, are driving the architecture of these DER systems.

As DER systems come online, many of these types of systems (PV systems, stationary energy storage systems, electric vehicles (EV’s) and EV charging stations) will attach to data communication networks that conform to the IEEE 2030.5 standard. These networks will enable DER systems to communicate with the local utility for the purpose of managing grid health and optimizing total system cost. Such an environment represents an inviting target for criminals, terrorists and other adversaries.

This course is an examination of the evolution of DER networks based on the IEEE 2030.5 standard, how this evolution introduces cybersecurity risks, and how these risks can be mitigated. While there are no pre-requisites for this course, students with prior knowledge of DER and/or data communication systems based on TCP/IP protocols will benefit most. It is intended for students who are interested in exploring technical (e.g. cybersecurity, engineering, software, systems management), professional (e.g. architecture, marketing, finance), and operational (e.g. operations & maintenance, sit monitoring) careers in the rapidly growing distributed energy industry. Students will acquire a foundation in the basic cybersecurity concepts that are needed to understand the more detailed considerations associated with securing DER in the grid.