I am broadly interested in the applications of Operations Research and Statistics on the operations of Cyber-Physical Systems with an emphasis on the cyber-physical security of smart grid. In particular, my research interests are shaped by the emerging trend towards autonomous power grids where centralized power systems are replaced by distributed power grids. The paradigm of future power systems involves the interface of all electrical supplies, including conventional power plants and new add-ons. New technology advancements such as phasor measurement units, smart meters, energy storage systems and electrical vehicles open the prospect of achieving completely autonomous operation of power systems while exponentially raising concerns over the security and resiliency of the power grid. My research agenda focuses on the question of how to leverage these technology advancements to continue the trend of improving power systems performance while satisfying and exceeding the requirements on the resiliency and security of smart grid operations.
I plan to continue and expand my research in the following directions.
Cyber-secure Power and Electric Transportation Systems with the Integration of Electric Vehicles to Smart Grid Operations
A cyberattack can be launched from any component of the Power and Electric Transportation Systems (PETS) including a smart meter, a phasor measurement unit (PMU), an electric vehicle supply equipment or even an electric vehicle. If the attack is programmed to be spread such as the case with malware or a worm, it can propagate further in the PETS and infect other components, utility computers and system operator servers. Ensuring all components are healthy and non-compromised is highly challenging. Penetration and propagation of cyber-attacks vary depending on the nature of the connected systems. Electric vehicles (EVs), as the mobile portion of the smart grid, may easily spread worms and viruses in a large geographic area, which makes them a great target for the cyber-attackers who are aiming to damage the power grid. Hence, developing cyber-secure methods to integrate electric vehicles to the supply chain of electricity is critical for the future of the smart grid operations.
State-of-the-art Supply Chain of Electricity
Over the past several years, a paradigm shift has occurred in the power systems industry. The global electric power industry is evolving from large centralized power plants owned by the utilities to one that is more diverse – both in the sources of generation and ownership of the generation assets. They are “distributed” because they are placed at or near the point of energy consumption. Distributed energy technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the nation’s energy portfolio. It also has the potential to mitigate congestion in transmission lines, reduce the impact of electricity price fluctuations, strengthen energy security, and provide greater stability to the electricity grid. However, when a large number of new add-ons such as wind or solar farms, electrical vehicles and energy storage systems are integrated into a power system, the number of players will increase substantially. How to make sure that all these players operate the power grid securely and maintain the system stability is a great challenge.
Smart Grid Data Analytics
Integration of synchronous sensors and smart meters to power system infrastructure provides power systems stakeholders with massive amount of data that can be utilized towards more efficient and environment-friendlier operation of the power systems. Extensive utilization of smart sensors and the prospect of two-way real-time communication between utility companies and consumers provide vast research opportunities for analysis of consumer behavior to decrease energy generating costs, decrease consumer consumption, increase customer satisfaction and even improving the resiliency of the smart grid against cyber-threats.
Potential Funding Sources
Due to the prospects of my research and rapid development of smart grid, I can conduct my research in collaboration with all interested parties in the advancements of smart grid such as National Laboratories like Argonne and Los Alamos along with the Department of Energy (DOE), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and power utility companies. My research can also be supported by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Defense (DOD) due to the federal priorities in cyber-security and resiliency of cyber-physical infrastructure. Moreover, my research can be supported by several programs and divisions of NSF such as EPCN (Energy, Power, Control and Network), SaTC (Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace), CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems), CISE/ACI (Advanced Cyber-infrastructure) and ENG/ECCS (Electrical, Communications & Cyber Systems).