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Physical-Layer Security in the Next Generation of Power Grids

1st November 2023 to 31st October 2025

The electricity grid is undergoing a significant transition towards mainly renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. However, this transition presents new challenges, such as intermittent and weather dependent electricity generation. In addition, the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is rapidly increasing the demand for electricity, putting additional strain on the power grid. 

To address these issues, emerging technologies such as bi-directional charging and vehicle-to-grid communication are being introduced. These technologies can help balance the variability of renewable energy production and ensure a reliable and stable energy supply. However, moving towards a smart grid requires continuous monitoring of electricity production and demand. Information must also be exchanged between grid-connected consumers and producers, including EVs, charging stations, battery storage systems and photovoltaic (PV) systems. 

Given that the stability of the grid depends on the seamless exchange of sensor measurements and information about demand and production, the security of the components is a critical issue. While the smart grid security has been extensively researched, most of the work has focused on detecting and preventing attacks by malicious actors who have already infected industrial control systems with malware. In contrast, this project will focus on the physical layer security of sensor systems, such as voltage and current sensors, which are widely used in EVs and the smart grid. 

Here, physical layer security refers to protecting information transmitted in the form of a physical quantity (e.g., voltage) over a physical medium (e.g., wire) rather than physical barriers such as locks and walls. 

Previous research has shown that physical layer security is usually not sufficiently considered in the design of modern systems, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This project aims to identify and eliminate potential physical layer vulnerabilities in the next generation of power grids, and to develop and evaluate new, easily deployable countermeasures. 

Principal Investigator

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