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Smart energy and cyber security: Why is it so important?

People often ask me about the smart energy developments currently taking place in the market. Those currently using smart meters are aware of the benefits to their lives and how the added security testing helps to secure the ‘system’. But are we all aware of the rigorous testing that these devices go through to ensure that they are safe, reliable and fit for purpose?

Smart energy will become a reality in 2017 for all UK households and businesses, when the government’s mandatory Smart Metering Implementation Program begins to roll out smart technologies. The intention is to have all homes and businesses interconnected, allowing an unprecedented ability to monitor and assess usage, automate meter readings for accurate billing and boost energy capacity to areas of the grid which are struggling to meet demand. This gives energy producers enormous power, the likes of which has never been seen before. Consumers also have immense power with this development in energy policy. Smart meters provide a clear picture of energy consumption in actual monetary terms, thus bringing an end to estimated bills. This ability to monitor and control consumption will enable households to reduce expenditure and to understand their consumption patterns in more detail than ever before.

Keeping a step ahead

The energy landscape is changing. Systems are becoming more diverse, challenges more complex and governing bodies and other stakeholders more demanding. Smarter solutions are needed. Moreover, the approach to solution development must be smarter at every step.

We planned for these industry changes some years ago and opening our Technical Assurance Laboratory places us at the forefront of innovative smart energy, smart grid and smart metering developments in the UK. Recently commissioned by DNV GL, the 410 square meters facility will act as an innovative exploration and research center to ensure the interoperability, safety and reliability of smart energy products for consumers, manufacturers and utilities.

Independence is key

The Technical Assurance Laboratory will act as an independent center of excellence for both smart energy and cyber security testing expertise. It is the first of its kind in the UK.

On the smart energy side, we will ultimately be testing smart metering, smart home and smart grid products with a specific focus on functional testing, protocol testing and interoperability testing.

On the cyber security side, we have set up a new ‘Commercial Evaluation Facility’ (CLEF) which is UKAS (ISO 17025) accredited and is currently obtaining CESG accreditation. The CLEF enables product vendors and end users to gain vital assurance before and after deployment in order to minimize the threat of a cyber security breach within a product or system.

Together, these services (when integrated) represent a ‘one stop shop’ proposition whereby we can look at all (digital/communications related) elements of a product (down to a chipset level if necessary) or system and assess/quantify the risk of failure or the level of compliance with a particular scheme requirement or technical standard.

Industry recognition

As a true specialist in smart energy, we can help companies to understand and overcome risks and complexities that, if not expertly addressed, could undermine success.

The Technical Assurance Laboratory is fully accredited and will be working to ISO 9001 and ISO 17025 methodologies as standard, enabling DNV GL to offer specialized testing services to customers.

Why should you care?

The number of smart energy devices is set to rise exponentially and the combined role which they play within the national infrastructure will become increasingly critical in the coming years.

It is therefore fundamentally important that products are fully tested from a variety of different angles. The Technical Assurance Laboratory offers that assurance and essentially helps to underwrite the investments which are being made.

Meters (for example) are no longer just things that measure energy consumption; they are smart devices that support fundamental business processes going on within the energy industry.

So let’s make sure they work before we role too many of these things out into the system.

Critically, we understand the bigger picture – the drive to be safer, smarter and greener − and together we can tackle the ‘energy trilemma’ of delivering affordable, reliable and clean energy.

Read more about the Technical Assurance Laboratory.

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