Grid ready for distributed generation, less so for cyberattacks

A new report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology paints an optimistic picture of the American electrical grid's ability to adapt to the changing nature of electricity generation and consumption, though it notes some serious operations and reliability concerns as well. 

The report focuses on the potential for the grid to absorb the added load, in both directions, that will be created by the broader adoption of distributed generation systems such as residential solar panels and energy-hungry electric vehicles. 

While electric vehicles have been presented as a potential resource for grid stability, this report mostly examines their potential to overload the grid and finds little chance of such problems at expected growth rates.
 
The further development of smart grids and greater transmission capacity could prove crucial, but they also entail the most serious concerns, with cybersecurity for electrical grids almost entirely unregulated. The potential of such an attack is catastrophic and the report suggests some single agency be given responsibility for the security of the entire national grid. 

IT World notes an example where a group of Russian hackers attacked an Illinois water utility to illustrate the potential danger from anyone from rival groups and potentially bored teenagers. The Stuxnet attack on Iran provides another clear example.



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