Smart EV Charging Will Require Utilities to Invest in Cybersecurity Systems

The technology architecture associated with electric vehicle (EV) charging is continuing to evolve as utilities and other key players in the industry ecosystem identify business requirements and risks associated with adding significant new demands on the electrical grid. One of the most pressing challenges is related to securing financial transactions and end-to-end communications throughout the EV charging infrastructure, and a recent report from Pike Research indicates that these areas will be the focus of increased utility investment in cybersecurity systems over the next several years. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that the EV cyber security market will increase from just $26 million in 2011 to $144 million by 2015, with a cumulative investment of $432 million during that period.

“Smart charging management will be the primary driver of expanded utility spending on EV cyber security,” said senior analyst Bob Lockhart. “The IT and communications infrastructure supporting charging equipment will need to be resilient and secure in order to mitigate risks associated with financial transactions and the threat of hacking that is posed by the addition of these new endpoints. A malicious attack on the EV cyber infrastructure could potentially result in brownouts or stranded vehicles, and any failure in smart charging systems could strike a huge blow to utilities as well as consumer confidence in the reliability and viability of electric vehicles as a preferred mode of transportation.”

Lockhart adds that, in addition to their benefits for smart charging, EV cybersecurity systems will also strengthen customer information management systems and enable new forms of data analytics that will be advantageous for utilities and end users alike. However, Pike Research’s analysis indicates that the EV cyber securitymarket is still nascent and is somewhat hamstrung in the near term by the lack of security standards and binding regulation or legislation related to these issues. Lockhart believes that the lack of a common approach is likely to make security for EV infrastructure more expensive than it needs to be, and more complex, over the next several years.

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