Distributed Energy Sources (DESs) such as Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) also known as Distributed Energy Pro-consumers (DEPs) are designed to consume energy from the Smart Grid (SG) on a regular basis. However, as SGs evolve, these units will be able to minimize their energy usage and return the energy to the grid as needed for effective Demand Response Management (DRM). Because the SGs are fully automated and have remote access, even a minor security breach can have a tremendous impact on the entire community, resulting in cascading blackouts and also safety issues for vehicle owners. The US Department of Homeland Security revealed in 2016 that the Russian hackers had hacked into one of their grids. Most importantly, there could be severe power fluctuations at the grid level due to the unpredictable penetration of a large number of EVs.

The integration of ICT with power grids allows for smooth data sharing between different SG organizations, allowing for more effective and smart governance in terms of demand response management, frequency support, and voltage stabilization. However, this integration raises a number of security and privacy problems, including electricity theft, power outages, battery exhaustion, infrastructure mapping, and so on. In [1], the authors propose a methodology based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and BlockChain (BC) to address two difficult concerns in EV-assisted SG ecosystems: privacy assurance and power security.

To guarantee data security and effective DRM, the suggested approach used Ethereum and Smart Contracts. An Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) and Ethereum-based authentication and key agreement mechanism was used to assure data security. DRM, on the other hand, was ensured by sending pro-consumers well-calculated demand response signals. Following that, the incentives were anonymously communicated to the proconsumers participated in the project. The authors make use of SDN’s capabilities to handle the SG’s complicated interactions between multiple subsystems. They also use the features of BC and smart contracts to protect energy transfers and data communications. For privacy preservation during smart energy trading, they built a secure and efficient mutual authentication technique based on ECC and BC. The consensus mechanism adopted to transfer the details of Smart Meters (SMs) and the SDN controllers to the different ledgers is the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT). Then, for successful demand response management, the authors devise a safe energy trading method based on BC.

The SG ecosystem considered is segregated into the data plane, control, BC, and application plane. The data plane includes electrical customers who are connected to SG via dedicated SMs. SMs aid in the real-time regulation and tracking of all pro-consumers’ energy consumption profiles. Above this layer is the control plane which consists of SDN controllers that handle the underlying network’s control functions. Finally, above this layer is the BC plane which contains several ledgers and Smart Contracts (SCs) for keeping track of authentication and energy trading transactions, respectively.

In this context, BC technology is projected to make a significant impact by enhancing security requirements for connectivity, data transfer, and access management. BC’s technology is built on a distributed ledger, in which each node in the network keeps a copy of the ledger. Because the blocks in this ledger are cryptographically connected to one another, the ledger is immutable. Initially, the concept of BC was restricted to the use of cryptocurrencies. BCs are now being used in a variety of application domains, including the Internet of Things, Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), and Autonomous Vehicles, thanks to the introduction of Smart Contracts (SC).

Gartner predicts that by 2025, the business value connected with BC would have grown to USD 176 billion. Several governments, including the Republic of Georgia, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates, have recently announced their intention to adopt BC to manage their digital assets in the areas of property management, e-governance, and land registry, respectively. The potentials of BC technology are enormous, and it is just a matter of time before we see their domination for a much more secured EV management system.

[1] K. Kaur, G. Kaddoum, and S. Zeadally. ”Blockchain-based cyber-physical security for electrical vehicle aided smart grid ecosystem.” IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems (2021).

Written by Nishat Mowla