Every country’s national electrical grid is becoming more vulnerable to hacking attacks as grid operators expand the use of phase synchronization and other smart grid techniques that rely on GPS/GNSS signals for timing. For example, synchrophasor systems utilize phasor measurement units (PMUs) for providing electrical power system reliability and grid efficiency, synchronizing services among power networks, and finding malfunctions within transmission networks.
PMUs rely on GPS to timestamp their measurements, which are sent back to a central monitoring station for processing. GPS manipulation could alter a PMU’s timestamps, thereby causing a PMU to deliver erroneous measurements regarding power frequency reading and power flow calculations. Such a scenario would likely cause some elements to overheat as well as lead to overloaded lines or transformers, potentially causing blackouts or damage to power grid equipment.
An industry survey conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) indicates that 60% of electricity utilities use precision timing in their distribution substations. The requirement is even more widespread in transmission substations, with 90% of utilities relying on precision timing. These figures underscore the importance of timing in this particular critical infrastructure sector.
Serving as an alternative source of PNT for the electrical grid, STL provides trusted timing and synchronization for continued reliable synchrophasor operation and to support other applications when GPS signals are unavailable or disrupted.