The Smart Grid Communication Laboratory (SGC-Lab) constitutes a part of the Voice and Data Communication Section of the Information Technology & Telecommunications Department of HEDNO. It aims to develop and administer the communication network of HEDNO in the framework of smart grid communications.

More specifically, the laboratory’s scope is the evaluation of communication technologies suitable for remote monitoring and remote control of the Greek distribution grid. Moreover, the SGC-Lab seeks to establish research and laboratory facilities to provide added value operational guidelines and information to production systems (Operational and Information Technology).

Location: HEDNO – Athens, Greece

In the framework of Smart Grid enabling technologies, the communication infrastructure is considered as a critical component for the successful operation of the digitally transformed Distribution Networks. SGC-Lab’s work could span on multiple fields: the operational and enterprise WAN networks, the evaluation of communication technologies oriented for operational DSO systems such as ZigBee, WLAN, cellular communication, WiMAX, Power Line Communication (PLC), NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and LoRaWAN, under the perspective of implementation in HEDNO’s Smart Grids.

An important work field is related to SCADA communications and the evaluation of security mechanisms. SGC-Lab envisages establishing an Intrusion Detection System framework that incorporates simulation of SCADA traffic, detection of anomalies or malicious activity. Main protocols to be evaluated include the IEC 60870-5-101 Transmission Protocol for basic remote control tasks, IEC 60870-5-104 Transmission Protocol, DNP3, Modbus protocol. In addition, a major role for a research and laboratory facility includes the analysis of existing experience, as well as data network related attacks to similar business Network Operators worldwide, to provide guidelines for HEDNO Operational Technology systems.

Current Infrastructure

Currently, the SGC-Lab uses a wide variety of communication equipment, servers and PBX facilities in order to simulate real case scenarios for HEDNO. More specifically, SGC-Lab incorporates a DELL server capable to operate various Virtual Machines (VM) developed in the framework of the European Project “WiseGRID”. The VMs mainly handle the communication with smart meters installed in various HEDNO facilities, as well as the integration of GIS with SCADA data for a small geographical region of the Greek distribution network (“Mesogeia” site demo in WiseGRID). There are also VMs running GNS3, which emulate HEDNO’s communications network. Furthermore, the software of a cybersecurity mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of data originating from RTU simulators and SCADA protocol servers is under deployment.

Rack-1 of SGC-Lab infrastructure hosting the DELL Server

The SGC-Lab network is an integral part of the ICT department’s network, directly connected through MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) technology with individual VRFs (Virtual Routing and Forwarding) for IT, SCADA and Internet. The laboratory provides direct communication through high-availability CISCO-based firewall infrastructure to SCADA VRF and specifically to demo load break switches.

Fully operational laboratory work room
Legacy and Modern PBX available at SGC-Lab infrastructure

The existing services provided are as follows:

  • Routers
  • Software Firewalls (PFSENSE)
  • Commercial Firewalls
  • Managed Switches
  • WAN Communication Technologies
  • Leased Lines (Metro Ethernet)
  • xDSL Telecommunication Lines
  • Extensive Wireless Network (IEEE 802.11ac) that cover HEDNO points of presence (Enterprise Network)
  • MPLS-VPN based Enterprise Network
  • Access to HEDNO Corporate APN Network provided by Mobile Network Operator (Substations, Smart Meters)
  • Access to SCADA VRF Operational network of HEDNO

HEDNO S.A. (Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator S.A.) was formed by the separation of the Public Power Company (PPC) S.A. Distribution Department in order to comply with the 2009/72/EC EU Directive.

The company’s tasks include the operation, maintenance and development of the power distribution network in Greece, as well as the assurance of a transparent and impartial access of consumers and of all network users in general. The company aims at providing reliable power supply to all customers, quality of electricity voltage and constant improvement of the services provided.  Its mission and vision are the response to its customers’ expectations and the contribution to the development and welfare of fellow citizens with respect to people and the environment.

HEDNO’s responsibilities include:

  • Fulfillment of users’ requests
  • Network development
  • Network operation
  • Normal and efficient operation of the Electricity Market, within the scope of the distribution network
  • Reliable and economically viable operation of the islands’ autonomous electricity systems

HEDNO strongly believes that its participation in relevant research programs aids towards its commitment to keep up with technological progress and to use state of the art technologies in order to serve the needs of its customers and the society in an optimal way. Hence, its participation in various European research programs such as TILOS, SmarterΕΜC2, WiseGRID, SHAR-Q, GRIDSOL, ERIGrid 2.0, etc.

As far as critical applications are concerned, and for safety reasons, the users are not expected to operate the systems by themselves; even when safety instructions are provided, tests will be carried out by HEDNO staff. For the rest of applications and after ad-hoc training, the user group will have full access to the related facilities for the duration of the stay (with the support of HEDNO’s engineers and laboratory technicians when necessary). The scheduling of the experiments will be agreed and booked prior to the stay according to the availability of the involved staff and equipment. Administrative documentation for the access (contract, non-disclosure agreement, etc.) will comply with ERIGrid 2.0 common indications.

In addition to the general corporate services (Internet connection, canteen, etc.) and the support and advice on accommodation and transportation to HEDNO’s infrastructure, the access offered includes supervision and help of HEDNO’s staff:

  • As a complement to the pre-access contacts between the user group and HEDNO, the stay will start with an introductory meeting with the responsible engineer for confirming the stay conditions (confidentiality, safety indications), scheduling the activities, explaining the on-site procedures, clarifying the logistics and technical details.
  • Preparatory work: a laboratory technician will assist the users with the installation of the devices, electrical connections, use of the specific instrumentation, preparation of a test procedure (if necessary) based on the users requests, and programming of the experimental conditions.
  • HEDNO’s employees will support the realisation and follow-up of the experiments.
  • HEDNO’s employees will support the results interpretation, data processing and analysis, and test report preparation.

In principle, a typical stay of 1-2 weeks is foreseen for a single user group under the guidelines and restrictions set by the pandemic but this period could be extended depending on the concrete user project. The user group (usually 1-2 persons) may use the infrastructure for the defined time.

Reimbursement of expenses:

User expenses for the lab access are paid by ERIGrid2.0 (EU H2020 Programme). This includes travels to HEDNO SGC-Lab by plane/trains, accommodation, daily subsistence, and daily transportation during the stay.

For the user projects taking place in the SGC-Lab, HEDNO will refund the stay expenses when the stay is finished: the user must declare the incurred expenses and present the invoices/receipts to HEDNO in order to get the refund.

Reasonable expenses must be made by the user: travels will be made in economy class and conventional hotels (not luxury) or equivalent accommodation will be used. As an indication (it is not a daily allowance), a maximum subsistence fee of 150 €/person must be considered per day.

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