US Energy Department Explores Blockchain to Avoid Cyberattacks on Power Plants

The U.S. Department of Energy is eyeing blockchain technology as protection against cyber attacks on power plants.

The department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) unit revealed the news April 10 that stage two of an electric security project has commenced in collaboration with decentralized cybersecurity startup Taekion, previously known as Grid7.

The laboratory awarded a grant of $1 million to Taekion last year, and now as part of the second stage of the initiative, the startup will study how blockchain technology can be utilized to secure a power plant, by recording all actuator, sensor, and device transactions on a distributed ledger.

“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security,” NETL stated, adding that, when the record of key information is decentralized, “there is no single point of failure.”

According to NETL:

“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 considers working on other applications, too, that would assist in securing energy transactions to safeguard process information at power generation facilities, enhance grid reliability, and link a more decentralized energy infrastructure.

The initiative is part of the energy department’s Office of Fossil Energy Sensors and Controls program and is supported through the department’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

This is not the first time the department has eyed blockchain’s potential for technological enhancements. Last year, it collaborated with BlockCypher to create solutions enabling energy transactions to be settled across multiple blockchains.

Recently, the department also revealed federal funding of up to $4.8 million for universities for their R&D projects, including those that are blockchain-related.