The U.S. Department of Energy is researching blockchain technology for a line of defense against cyber attacks on electricity plants.
The division's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) unit declared Wednesday that stage two of an electrical grid safety project was established in partnership with decentralized cybersecurity startup Taekion, previously Grid7.
The lab provided a grant of $1 million to Taekion this past year, and as part of this next stage of the job, the startup will study on how blockchain engineering may be utilized to procure an energy plant, by maintaining all sensor, actuator and apparatus transactions on a dispersed ledger.
“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security,” NETL said, adding that, when the storage of key information is decentralized, “there is no single point of failure.”
“For example, one method of cyberattack involves compromising a system so that it appears operational when it has actually been shut down by the hackers, leaving millions without power […] The applications being developed in the NETL-managed project have the potential to thwart such attacks by preventing hackers from altering the plant’s operational information.”
Taekion intends to operate on other programs, also, that will help protect energy trades to safeguard process data at electricity generation facilities, enhance grid reliability and incorporate a much more decentralized energy infrastructure.
The job is part of the energy division's Office of Fossil Energy Sensors and Controls application and is financed through the division's Small Business Innovation Research program.
This isn't the first time that the section has looked to research blockchain for technological advancements. This past year, it partnered using BlockCypher to come up with solutions permitting electricity trades to be settled across several blockchains.
The section also recently announced federal funding of around $4.8 million for universities focusing on R&D jobs, including those associated with blockchain.