Texas A&M leads smart grid security project in Qatar

  • August 11, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

An international research collaboration between academia and industry led by Texas A&M University has received a $3.2m grant from the Qatar National Research Foundation (QNRF) for a cluster project for smart grid cyber-security infrastructure in Qatar.
The goal is to provide a safer, more reliable energy supply for the country.
The cluster track aims to develop solutions to real-world problems in Qatar to produce tangible societal and economic impact. Through this programme, QNRF supports multi-institutional and interdisciplinary research to solve significant and complex problems that need an unconventional approach.
Led by Haitham Abu-Rub, a professor in Texas A&M at Qatar and managing director of the Tees Smart Grid Center extension in Qatar, the interdisciplinary team includes researchers from Qatar University, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute and the Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation, Kahramaa.
Abu-Rub said the outcomes of this cluster project would help create a cyber-physical security infrastructure for Qatar’s smart grid while addressing the challenges associated with cyber-physical security and situational awareness of Qatar’s power grid. In short, and in addition to the educational benefits, the research will help protect Qatar’s smart grid and critical infrastructures from cyber attacks, damage and energy disruption.
International collaborators include faculty from Texas A&M’s main campus in Texas and Kansas State University. Additional support will come from Kahramaa, the Ministry of Transport & Communications, Qatar Mobility Innovations Center, and US companies AllCell and Typhoon HIL.
The collaborators said residential, commercial, institutional and industrial sectors throughout Qatar would benefit from this research. All these sectors need an electric energy supply with improved reliability and enhanced resiliency from Qatar’s power grid. Various stakeholders will gain benefits from the acquired knowledge, skill and transfer technologies that will be created during the project. This project can result in a significant impact on Qatar’s national electric grid security and economic savings.
“As Qatar’s electric grid keeps expanding and transforming to smart grid, the probability of cyber-attack increases day by day,” said Essa Bin Hilal Al-Kuwari, Kahramaa president. “Creating a cyber-physical security smart grid infrastructure is a top priority for Qatar and surely worldwide. Kahramaa has always had active collaboration with Texas A&M at Qatar and other local universities and research centres. Being a strategic partner in the smart grid centre at Texas A&M at Qatar provides a significant opportunity in supporting and partnering in such collaborative research.”
The project was awarded as part of QNRF’s national priorities research programme cluster track for a duration of four years.
“I extend my sincere congratulations to the awarded team,” said Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, QNRF executive director. “The proposed research has exceptional merit and the potential to significantly advance the current body of knowledge in cyber security and energy. In turn, the findings will position Qatar as an international leader in terms of innovation in these critical areas. I also foresee the research outcomes leading to meaningful IP opportunities and contributing to economic development and diversification in Qatar.”
Saif Al-Kuwari, principal investigator from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, added: “This project will create unique opportunities on different levels. Academically, it will facilitate interdisciplinary research collaboration. Practically, it will innovate solutions for real-world problems and connect academia with industry. Nationally, it is addressing genuine local challenges related to smart grid cyber-security infrastructure”
Texas A&M at Qatar dean César Octavio Malavé said such an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research collaboration was at the heart of the branch campus’ vision to be an essential resource to Qatar.
“Part of our mission is to generate new knowledge and intellectual capital through innovative research and collaborative partnerships that yield sustainable impact,” Malavé said. “Texas A&M has the ability to leverage our expertise and connections through our main campus and research agencies to be able to conduct large-scale, multidisciplinary research on real-world challenges for the benefit of the state of Qatar. We are grateful to the Qatar National Research Foundation for believing in our capabilities and having the vision to support our work, and to our partners in academia, industry and government for working with us to answer the call to secure Qatar’s energy future.”