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Offshore wind farms require robust cyberinfrastructure to operate and communicate with, which unfortunately means they are vulnerable to cyber threats.

A new study by researchers from Concordia University and Hydro-Quebec explores the potential risks and impacts of cyberattacks on offshore wind farms, focusing on ones that use voltage-source-converter high-voltage direct-current (VSC-HVDC) connections.

The lead author of the study is Juanwei Chen, a Ph.D. student at CIISE at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. He explains: “Offshore wind farms are more complex and remote than onshore ones, and they require more cyberinfrastructure to operate and communicate with onshore systems, maintenance vessels, inspection drones, and other turbines. This makes them more exposed to cyberattacks, which could compromise their sensors and inject false data into the system, causing electrical disturbances and power oscillations that could affect the stability of the whole power grid.”

According to Interesting Engineering, the researchers used a simulation model to analyze the effects of cyberattacks on offshore wind farms with VSC-HVDC connections. They found that such attacks could trigger poorly dampened power oscillations that could be amplified by the HVDC system and propagate to the main grid, potentially causing blackouts or damage to equipment.

The study also suggests that in order to mitigate such cyberattacks, there might be a need for more than the existing protection mechanisms designed to handle physical faults. They therefore recommend developing new cyber-resilient control and defense strategies for offshore wind farms and enhancing the operators’ and engineers’ cybersecurity awareness and education.

“As we advance the integration of renewable energies, it is imperative to recognize that we are venturing into uncharted territory, with unknown vulnerabilities and cyber threats,” Chen says. “We hope that our study will raise awareness and inspire further research on this important and timely topic.”

This information was provided by Interesting Engineering.