Intel isputting its energy into the development of smart grid standards and monitoringsystems in Germany, with company executives announcing a number of initiativesat the Cebit trade show Monday.
WithWestfalen Weser Energie, it is developing smart monitoring systems for theregional utility"s electrical substations, said Hannes Schwaderer, Intel"sdirector of energy and industrial applications for Europe, the Middle East andAfrica.
InGermany there are around 1 million secondary substations, which transformelectricity from medium-high voltages down to the 220 volt supply found inhomes and offices, said Detlef Gieselmann, the utility"s senior vice presidentof business development. In residential areas, each substation typically serves100 to 150 people, with others serving commercial or industrial sites, he said.
So far,the company has equipped just two substations with industrial PCs built aroundIntel Core i5 processors, and additional instrumentation to measure voltage andcurrent. However, those PCs log and report as much data on the status of thesubstation as around 200 of the utility"s legacy SCADA systems, so the next phaseof the joint project is to develop software tools to handle the increased dataflow. The partners are doing that at two levels: On the server side they areworking on "big data" techniques to glean useful business informationfrom the mass of measurements received, while on the client side they arelooking for ways to pre-screen the data, reporting only short summaries of itwhen all is going well, and raising an alarm and forwarding more data when ananomaly is detected.
The PCschosen for the project use the Core i5 processor because, like the larger i7,it includes Intel"s Active Management Technology, a hardware feature thatallows remote troubleshooting and recovery of the system, and reporting on thepresence of software security agents.
It"s vitalto think about security from the start, said Gieselmann, because substationsare rarely visited after the equipment is installed perhaps once every fiveto 10 years for an audit or maintenance check and yet every PC installedwill become a new IP gateway on to the utility"s internal network, providingpotentially dangerous access to critical infrastructure.
That"swhy another of the initiatives announced involved a collaboration between twoIntel business units to develop a security platform for smart grid curity software vendor McAfee is working with embedded OS developer WindRiverto deliver end-to-end protection for the smart grid, said Raj Samani, CTO forMcAfee Europe, Middle East and Africa. This will enable utilities to securelymanage each secondary substation from a central location, he said.
"Malwareis getting lower down the stack and so protection is having to get deeper andwork harder," he said.
Anothervital factor in connecting up smart grid elements will be having them all talkthe same language. To that end, Intel is joining the EEBus Initiative, a Germansmart grid standards consortium, said Christian Morales, the company"s vicepresident and general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Moralesalso said that MVV Energie, a utility based in Mannheim, Germany, is usingIntel"s Puma 6 smart home gateway in a large-scale trial with its customers ofsecure decentralized energy management. The Puma 6 is based on an Atom chip andallows consolidation of functions including Internet access, TV, home securityand energy management in one device, according to e need forconsolidation and common standards in the field of smart energy management wasunderlined by the EEBus Initiative Monday, as it and 10 other IT and energyindustry associations signed a joint declaration committing to make Germany theleading market for smart home technologies and calling for the development ofmanufacturer-independent standards for smart home and smart gridcommunications.