Electricity and Smart Grid

America's safety, security, and overall health and vitality depend on the uninterrupted delivery of electricity to homes, businesses, and public spaces. The nation's power grid, one of our greatest strengths, is also uniquely vulnerable to attack as people and machines become increasingly connected to the public internet. 

As the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) largest open science and energy laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is uniquely positioned to modernize the grid and to address security challenges in partnership with the private sector through scientific discoveries, innovations in power systems, and improvements to critical infrastructure.


The single step of moving utility control systems o the public internet and onto secure private networks promises to eliminate significant vulnerabilities. ORNL's expertise in encryption, embedded and wireless systems, testing, and controls is strengthening information security technologies and improving methods for detecting and responding to cyberattacks.

Monitoring and Visualization

To stop security breaches and minimize disruptions, utilities need to know about problems as quickly as possible. ORNL researchers have developed breakthrough methods to detect emerging issues before they become problems, resulting in avoidance of or faster recovery from outages.

Resiliency and Controls

ORNL expertise and technologies support the grid's need for energy storage, advanced components, and control technologies that will handle growing demand and the greater variety of power supplies such as wind and solar.

Grid Technology Portfolio

Partnerships and Collaborations

Reflecting the unique interconnected nature of the grid, ORNL collaborates with thousands of industry and academic partners from utilities such as Duke Energy, Chattanooga EPB, Southern Company, and the 900 companies represented by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to universities to hardware and cybersecurity firms and other national labs as we devise and deliver solutions for a secure, reliable electric grid.

As part of DOE's Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium and Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems initiative, we are focused on the following. 

  • Removing grid controls from the public internet
  • Devising quantum solutions to protect vital communications
  • Improving the connectivity and security of distributed energy resources such as microgrids


Research Highlights

Cutting through the noise with Singanallur Venkatakrishnan

Singanallur “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan is helping scientists get a better view of objects under study by some of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s most powerful instruments by creating algorithms that turn data into 3D renderings with fewer images. The result is a better understanding of...

Electricity: Mini-grid to the max

Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers have devised a testbed that lets them mimic high-voltage equipment in a safe, low-voltage setting. The Software-Defined Intelligent Grid Research Integration and Development platform, or SI-GRID, operates below 100 volts—less than a household...

ORNL develops safer runway lighting

ORNL is developing a new airport and runway lighting technology to enhance visibility for pilots during takeoffs and landings.

According to Roger Kisner of the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division, researchers from his division and the Physical Sciences...