Virtuegrid – Virtualisation for resilient and secure Smart Grid communication networks

Ongoing digitisation of power grids by large numbers of ICT-components for the purpose of extensive integration of renewable energy sources (REC) is demanding for novel system management strategies. The VirtueGrid project evaluates the potentials emerging from using virtualisation technolgies in the area of power grid control.

In order to further increase shares of decentralized and renewable energy sources, digitisation driven developments with respect to power grid monitoring, control, and decentralized energy management are required. On the one hand the utilisation of ICT is an enabler for further automisation of control processes. On the other hand, however, novel strategies are required to achieve manageability of these high complex systems comprising of large amounts of heterogenous components. Simply scaling traditional systems and procedures is not sufficient.

Virtualization of control systems and communication networks in particular by utilizing Cloud-computing and Software-defined networks (SDN) provides new potentials. Development cycles for new applications such as metering, billing, or monitoring get substantially shortend and deployment processes simplified. By virtualisation, systems consisting of heterogenous components spread across an entire power grid can be configured and programmed from a (virtually) centralized entity.

The VirtueGrid project develops novel concepts to support future power grid applications by utilisation of virtualisation technologies. The following three research questions are covered:

  1. Which approaches allow for minimising configuration efforts and manual engineering in patch management when integrating large numbers of new intelligent power grid components?
  2. How can system reliability be improved and graceful degradation be realised using relocation of distributed control processes in case of ICT malfunctions or even connection loss?
  3. How does Software Defined Networking as a network virtualisation technique support situational awareness in power system ICT networks, i.e. proactive detection of overload, malfunctions or malicious attacks?

An evaluation of the developed concepts is done in a three-step approach in simulations, laboratory and in a real field environment of Linz Strom, KELAG/KNG and IKB.