An investigation by Accenture and the World Economic Forum has found that Smart Grid pilot projects are wrestling with information security and privacy protection issues.
Smart Grids, whereby energy infrastructure is embedded with information technology that allows consumption and supply to be monitored and managed more effectively, raise a number of information security concerns, the report claimed.
These include the “integrity of the grid when attacked by corrupted commands or information; the ability of third parties to control the grid; and the level of intelligence that utilities have to successfully respond to security threats, including acts of terrorism and manipulation of meter data.”
Smart Grids could also present a threat to the privacy of consumers, the report asserted. “Protection, accessibility and appropriate use of consumer data, as well as consumer awareness of data being collected and used by the [supplier] is crucial to building trust and acceptance [of] new smart technologies,” it said.
In July 2010, the UK’s energy watchdog Ofgem published a document explaining what measures are needed to protect consumers’ privacy as Smart Grids are implemented. These include embedding “security solutions into smart metering equipment and communications” and developing “a privacy charter to reflect the [data protection] obligations for the energy sector”.
The WEF report found that around 90 Smart Grid pilots have so far been conducted around the world. Other challenges these projects have encountered include regulatory frameworks that do not encourage energy providers to reduce their carbon consumption and a lack of interoperability standards for Smart Grid systems.