Multilevel Cybersecurity for Photovoltaic Systems

Funded by DOE SETO program ($3.5M, 4/2020-4/2023)

Project Overview

This project aims to address photovoltaic (PV) system cybersecurity at both the inverter and system levels, and field test the solutions at a solar farm under the advising and review of a US-based solar inverter manufacturer and a PV systems operator. A two-level cyberattack defense approach is formulated whereby the first level, the solar inverter level, hardens individual devices and achieves a deeply cyber-secure inverter; the second level, the system level, addresses intrusion detection and restoration involving an ensemble of inverters and relevant systems.

Fig. 1. Device to system level strategy for PV systems cybersecurity

Project Goal & Objectives

The project goal is to devise a multilevel cybersecurity solution to address PV security gaps at the inverter and system levels, and field test the solution under the supervision and review of a US-based solar inverter manufacturer (GE) and PV installer/operator (TPI). The primary objectives are to:

  1. Create an inverter framework within which multiple new security capabilities can be deployed. These include supply chain security, hot patching, firmware protection, safety protocols, side-channel monitoring, controller security and control resilience.
  2. Deliver a self-consistent set of complementary system security methods that will work with data routinely available in PV solar farms.

Fig. 1 illustrates the multilevel concept. Two levels (inverter level in black; system level in red) will be integrated together to provide cross-layer security protection. This multilevel approach provides both global and local detection and mitigation possibilities that will be coordinated to advance PV system cybersecurity. The proposed multilevel cybersecurity tool will be evaluated in the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT – ( testbed and TPI solar farms.

Project Team Members

  • University of Arkanasa (UA)
    • H. Alan Mantooth (PI)
    • Qinghua Li
    • Jia Di
  • University of Georgia (UGA)
    • Jin Ye
    • Wenzhan Song
  • University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC)
    • Sudip K. Mazumder
  • Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
    • Bo Chen
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
    • Gabsu Seo
  • Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK)
    • Taesic Kim
  • Today’s Power Incorporated (TPI)
    • Matt Irving
  • General Electric Global Research Center (GE GRC)
    • Ahmed Elasser
    • Annarita Giani