The potential for an adversary to disrupt, shut down (power systems), or worse … is real here.
In regards to the recent news that cyber attackers successfully compromised the security of the U.S. Energy Department, these are the words that fell from the mouth of Scott White, Professor of Homeland Security and Security Management.
And as reported by USA Today …
Incident reports submitted by federal officials and contractors since late 2010 to the ‘s Joint Cybersecurity Coordination Center shows a near-consistent barrage of attempts to breach the security of critical information systems that contain sensitive data about the nation’s power grid, nuclear weapons stockpile and energy labs.
This, dear reader, does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Aside from the nuclear weapons stockpiles and energy labs (why the two of these are monitored by the same bureaucracy is beyond me), these cyber attacks offer yet one more example of why decentralized energy is superior to massive, centralized grid systems.
I’m not saying decentralized energy systems aren’t vulnerable to cyber attacks, but hitting a micro-grid won’t wreak havoc on the entire nation.
A $1 Trillion Smackdown!
As I wrote earlier this year, a full-scale cyber attack on the nation’s grid could essentially be considered an act of war.
Consider a grid failure that shuts down the entire Northeast in a matter of seconds. Such an event would leave most of the United States completely vulnerable to any group of people that might want to attack vital security and economic interests.
Lloyd’s of London actually published an entire report about such an event, using a hypothetical scenario of a blackout that plunges 15 states, including New York City and Washington D.C. into darkness, leaving 93 million people without power.
Analysts noted that impacts including direct damage to assets and infrastructure, decline in sales revenue to electricity supply companies, loss of sales revenue to business, and disruption to the supply chain could result in a $1 trillion smackdown on the U.S. economy. That’s trillion – with a “T.”
From a preparedness point of view, this recent announcement about cyber attacks on the DOE should certainly reinforce why slapping some solar up on your roof and going off-grid might not be such a bad idea.
From an investment point of view, this recent announcement should reinforce the desire to invest in renewable energy companies that can provide distributed energy systems to consumers.
Despite recent short interest in solar stocks, I maintain that over the long-term, stocks like SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY), SunEdison (NASDAQ: SUNE), and SolarEdge (NASDAQ: SEDG) are excellent long-term plays.
As cost reductions and environmental concerns continue to provide a steady flow of new customers for these companies, a future attack on this nation’s grid will also boost interest in distributed energy systems and off-grid living. And this future attack, mark my words, is not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.”