Postdoc in Cyber Resilience of Future Power Grids using Blockchain Technology

Job description

The Intelligent Electrical Power Grids (IEPG) section within the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at TU Delft has a very ambitious and diversified research programme covering major technological challenges concerning the operation and planning of future power grids. IEPG is expanding the research programme on cyber security and resilience of power grids to cyber attacks. The postdoctoral candidate is expected to conduct research on blockchain-based cyber security to improve the resilience of future power systems with high shares of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). This position is funded by the Delft Blockchain Lab (DBL, www.tudelft.nl/delft-blockchain-lab), which is the TU Delft initiative that brings all blockchain-related research at TU Delft together.

Current Practice. The electric distribution network that prevails all over the world follows a century-old top-down structure. This is centrally operated by Distribution System Operators (DSOs), which monitor and control the high and medium voltage networks. Typically, the Low Voltage (LV) network is not observable. High shares of DERs are deployed at all voltage levels in the distribution network to tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint. However, the distribution network currently lacks the necessary cyber security and resilience to prevent cyber attacks on DERs, grid edge devices, and associated electricity infrastructure.

Problem Description. The increased grid digitalisation has brought forth cyber attacks and threats as major risks. Cyber attacks on power grids are a real modern-day threat, as shown by the cyber attacks in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016. More recently, nineteen ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities have been identified in a widely used industrial TCP/IP stack, dubbed Ripple20. The Ripple20 investigations demonstrate Internet of Things (IoT)-based vulnerabilities that can allow attackers to gain access to and modify critical Operational Technology (OT) and IoT networked components. This poses a major threat to the future power grid with high shares of OT and IoT-enabled DERs. Cyber attacks are becoming more advanced and focused, bypassing network-level protection to target specific industrial IoT devices. Coordinated and simultaneous cyber attacks on aggregated DERs can have a large impact on power system stability, which may cause cascading failures and a blackout. The grid edge is becoming too shaky to shield with traditional defences. Smart grid cyber security is needed to protect every digital interaction between DERs and grid operators in the LV network. An increasingly open and transactional grid edge stresses the need to enforce the smart grid defences with blockchain.

 

Requirements

What is needed from you? The postdoctoral candidate will develop blockchain cyber security technology to help secure distributed energy resources at the grid’s edge with the overall aim to improve cyber security and grid resilience to cyber attacks. More specifically, you will develop advanced monitoring, control, and communication frameworks for embedded DERs enabled through blockchain to further build the foundation for a decarbonised, digitalised, and decentralised grid, while making it more resilient from a cyber security perspective. Blockchain provides a highly structured and immutable audit trail, complete with the identity of every actor in the cyber-physical system. It offers enhanced capabilities to verify the integrity of measurements and control setpoints for DERs and detect any data alteration by attackers. This makes the grid edge cyber resilient. The expected outcome is a distributed, scalable, and cyber secure architecture using blockchain technology that enables visibility, control, and security of grid edge DERs with the required speed and scale. The outcome of this research directly contributes to the cyber resilience of future power systems with high shares of OT / IoT-enabled DERs.

The candidate has a PhD in computer science, mathematics, electrical engineering or a similar discipline and experience in blockchain technology (e.g., hyperledger) and cyber-physical security.

 

Conditions of employment

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

 

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

 

Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three disciplines - electrical engineering, mathematics and computer science. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make future-proof. We are also working on a world in which humans and computers reinforce each other. We are mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. There is plenty of room here for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1,100 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

 

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, you can contact Dr. Alex Stefanov, e-mail: A.I.Stefanov@tudelft.nl.

 

Application procedure

Please upload your cover letter, CV, research statement (max. 2 pages with your innovation proposal for blockchain-based security for electric power systems), and a list of two references with contact information. 

A pre-employment screening can be part of the application procedure.

Link to original vacancy