Climate change is one of the critical challenges our world is facing today. To reduce global emissions and produce greener energy, our organizations need to evolve and adopt new sustainable models. At Ørsted, we chose to move from fossil-fuels to renewable energy.
Today, we are leaders in offshore wind power and ranked the most sustainable company in the world. However, this change of paradigm also led to new security challenges.
Security by design: The challenges in today’s expanding industry
The global development that we are currently going through at Ørsted with offshore windfarms has created three situations we need to tackle.
Over the years, the expansion of our offshore wind farm business has increased significantly. In this environment, the distance between production assets and control centers means that new operational technology (OT) security threats can occur. Second, we must comply with international standards while keeping security aligned with the ISO/IEC 62443 framework. Finally, we face the ongoing operational challenge of managing all systems, firmware, hardware and software.
In these circumstances, ensuring security by design is challenging. Therefore, we must strive for smooth coordination between all company functions to secure our operations while focusing on growth.
IT/OT convergence: How to strengthen security while remaining flexible?
The convergence of IT and OT is one of the leading security challenges that any industry faces today. At Ørsted, our chief architect is responsible for ensuring the segregation between both environments. By having a general view of each of them, we can understand and discern how this separation must be accomplished. Following a holistic design, we make sure that all security levels are met. This shared view comes across all positions within our company.
Another key aspect that we are facing is maintaining a certain level of OT flexibility. Because most of our assets are wind farms built to last for 25 years, we must anticipate changes. Our vision is to not “build to construct” but “build to build on.” This comes as a challenge, especially when we anticipate Industrial IoT (IIoT) devices providing flexibility in data collection and monitoring. For example, we must understand how these devices will coexist with our core control systems that reside in other regions.
Another significant aspect is physical separation. As an international company, we must have a logical separation between the OT networks in some markets, such as the United States. This must be taken into consideration when securing all our assets worldwide.
Last, because Ørsted is an energy producer, we face ongoing issues with storage which impact the design of our security controls. Energy is a real-time product, so a single breakdown in our control systems directly affects our revenues. This has huge implications and requires us to be simultaneously conservative and flexible in order to meet the right levels of adaptability discussed earlier. We continually strive to find the correct balance, which is why IT and OT are always learning one from another.
A security partner for communication in harsh environments
At Ørsted, communication is a crucial aspect of operations. We have many mission-critical communication systems that connect the maintenance staff working offshore in hostile environments. These ecosystems of communication tools must have high uptime and meet our company’s security requirements. Atos’s frontline communication systems technologies combined with its good security philosophy helped us choose their teams as our security partners.
By choosing Atos to supply critical communications solutions based on TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) technology to two offshore wind farms in Taiwan, we rely on their expertise to provide a comprehensive solution to this critical infrastructure located in a harsh and challenging environment. Indeed, as weather constraints and limited accessibility expose turbines to severe conditions, ensuring communications becomes a vital requirement for both business continuity and the safety of field workers.
Choosing Atos was a way for us to select the highest security and safety standards, with a strong commitment to decarbonization.
About the author
Karsten Hvalkof Andersen
Head of SCADA at Ørsted Wind Power
Karsten Hvalfok Andersen has been with Ørsted since 2007. He took the role of head of SCADA within WindPower Engineering where he is the responsible for all automation, radio communication, OT network engineering and automation project management for Ørsted windfarms.
Before joining Ørsted, he was the Principal Scientist at NNEPharmaplan, responsible for all advanced control design and engineering for pharmaceutical processes, the owner of KH Consult, an engineering consultancy for advance control and IT solutions, and Associate Professor at Technical University of Denmark (DTU), teaching and researching in the domains of automatic control. Karsten holds a master’s degree in Automation and a PhD in Optimal Process Control, both from DTU.
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