go to top scroll for more


Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number NIA_NGTO020
Title IEC 61850 Cyber Resilient Electric Substation Technologies
Status Completed
Energy Categories Other Power and Storage Technologies(Electricity transmission and distribution) 100%;
Research Types Applied Research and Development 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Computer Science and Informatics) 50%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Project Contact
No email address given
National Grid Electricity Transmission
Award Type Network Innovation Allowance
Funding Source Ofgem
Start Date 01 November 2018
End Date 31 July 2021
Duration ENA months
Total Grant Value £404,000
Industrial Sectors Power
Region London
Programme Network Innovation Allowance
Investigators Principal Investigator Project Contact , National Grid Electricity Transmission (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , National Grid plc (0.000%)
Web Site https://smarter.energynetworks.org/projects/NIA_NGTO020
Objectives To address the above problems, the following research and development work is proposed: Design and implement cyber security testing capability into the existing VSATT platform. This will require a suite of software tools running on several devices that can be connected at process and station bus levels. It will enable the assessment of a number of commercial cyber security tools and investigations into the vulnerability of equipment/network in a virtual substation environment.Develop and test new methods of managing cyber security and improving resilience for IEC 61850 based networks, e.g. collaborative defence mechanisms, etc. Evaluate and trial innovative methods related to recovery from a cyber-attack or equipment failure, e.g. hot standby bay strategy, and self-healing systems based on Software-Defined Networking technology.Extend the VSATT platform by installing a traffic generator and standard physical I/O interfaces between the simulated primary plant and merging units. This will allow testing the impacts of delayed, missing or modified network traffic in digital P&C systems and assessing the influence of standardised I/O interfaces on system outage time. The AS3 and VSATT projects have demonstrated the viability of implementing digital substation solutions and have validated the interoperability between solutions from several vendors. However, the increase in cyber risk and concern about the resilience of digital P&C solutions has led to a need to better understand how the IEDs now being used in National Grid substations might be attacked and the extent of their vulnerability. The scope of this project can be divided into the following parts.Cyber security and resilience of IEC 61850 based substation solutionsReview and report on literature, including cyber security issues and new emerging cyber-attack detection/defence technologies in substation protection, automation and control systems.  Trial different Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) on the VSATT platform to identify vulnerabilities of AS3 based digital substations.Develop and demonstrate cyber defence and recovery methods for IEC 61850 based substation protection and control schemes.Develop a specification and/or best practice guidance for cyber-resilient digital substation solutions considering in particular how relevant international cyber security standards should be implemented and identify any gaps not currently covered by international standards.Station-wide functions and commissioning for hybrid substationsTest and demonstrate AS3 bay solutions and station-wide functions with a mix of analogue and digital technologies, including Bus Bar Protection (BBP), synchronising and interlocking.Standardised I/O interface to primary equipmentTest and demonstrate the impact of a standardised quick-release I/O interface to primary equipment on the IEC 61850 bay solution outage time when replacing and testing the secondary system using the VSATT platform.The project will comprise a number of work streams, including the development of a suitable cyber detection tool as well as protection and control resiliency methods. The testing in this project will aim to answer, but not be limited to, the following questions. What is the level of cyber security risk and equipment vulnerability for digital bay solutions based on the AS3 architecture? Can these risks and vulnerabilities be addressed and managed?What is the most suitable cyber resiliency technology going forwards? The project aims to address the cyber security and secondary system resiliency issues in order to facilitate the application of AS3 digital substation architecture based designs on the transmission network. The main enabling factor is to implement station-wide functions with a mix of analogue and digital technologies as well as cyber security testing capability into the existing VSATT platform to achieve the following:Test and demonstrate station-wide functions and commissioning, testing and maintenance strategies with mixed analogue and digital technologies and enable site roll out.Test and demonstrate protection and control, cyber resilient technologies in the event of equipment failure or virus intrusion from any test set, laptop or memory stick for software update during commissioning, maintenance and live equipment testing. Reduce the overall technical and commercial risks associated with secondary systems and drive customer value as a result of:fast response to cyber-attacks with suitable intrusion detection tools,improved resiliency of digital P&C solutions
Abstract Digital substation technologies have the potential to deliver great benefits to utilities and their customers. They can enable a more efficient, automated and less risky engineering process, simplified installation, commissioning and eventually replacement, requiring shorter outages and significantly fewer resources. To fully explore these benefits, National Grid has previously carried out two research projects which have delivered a standard Architecture for Substation Secondary Systems (AS3), including a configuration guideline for digital substation solutions based on the IEC61850 suite of standards.Building on this work, the Virtual Site Acceptance Testing and Training (VSATT) project has developed an off-grid test facility implementing the AS3 architecture and configuration guidelines. The VSATT project demonstrated a good level of interoperability between suppliers and delivered a testing and commissioning strategy for digital substation solutions. Whilst this research work has significantly improved our readiness to deploy this technology and deliver the benefits, security and resilience issues have arisen that require further work. This project will investigate cyber vulnerabilities particularly for digital solutions, and it will develop defence/recovery methods to improve resilience.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 09/11/22