Open Source to Drive Energy Transition

Article By : M. Di Paolo Emilio

LF Energy is a multi-stakeholder consortium that is trying to use the power of open source to modernize the energy sector.

Growing and supporting renewable energy through a truly collaborative open-source initiative is the objective of LF Energy. LF Energy is a nonprofit, vendor-neutral initiative from The Linux Foundation with an action plan to modernize electrical systems worldwide through open frameworks, reference architectures, and a support ecosystem of complementary projects.

“Our mission is to accelerate the energy transition by hosting, building, facilitating and enabling the distributive computing paradigm as it relates to distributed energy resources. That is everything from control infrastructure to the foundations for new markets, micro-transactions, the edge devices, the whole thing,” said Shuli Goodman, executive director of LF Energy.

Monthly Average Carbon Dioxide Concentration

The term “open source” indicates a commitment to sharing knowledge, thus encouraging free redistribution and access to design and implementation of solutions. Open source is one of the big points to consider to accelerate changes in the technology paradigm to deliver a 100% green energy transition.

While improving the network, strengthening security and promoting collaboration are generally all positive aspects, at a macroscopic level there is a more urgent need for the future of humanity. This is the need to combat and limit the risks of climate change. This is another field where open source is playing a role. There are a wide range of open-source projects. The best known include computer software such as the Mozilla Firefox web browser and operating systems such as Android and Linux.

“Open source is an intellectual property agreement that enables collective action,” said Goodman.

LF Energy takes care of reusable components, open APIs, and interfaces through projects to adopt in platforms based on open-source code libraries. Systems integrators, vendors, developers, and end-users can solve complex and interconnected problems with secure and flexible open-source software.

Global Energy Consumption

When developing energy systems, cybersecurity, interoperability, control, optimization, virtualization of network functions, and digital management of distributed energy resources (DER) can all represent development challenges.

The objective of an open-source energy system is to reduce total costs by reducing development costs and facilitating the interconnection between systems. System integrators can deliver to the market in faster way with scalable and modular plug-and-play components. Ideally, solutions can be implemented much faster, and be adapted dynamically to evolving business models.

“We have several projects. One is RIAPS, which is a distributive computing developer platform with an edge. OEDI, which is an open energy data initiative which is around building infrastructure for data lakes. The third one is OpenEEmeter, which is software that enables utilities to be able to value the energy efficiency investments and to be able to understand how those investments can be leveraged for grid flexibility, which of course is one of the most important things in the future,” said Goodman.

Shuli Goodman

5G offers higher speeds and more reliable connections compared to current mobile communications and has been introduced as a new era for communications. Data speeds 10-20 times faster than 4G can benefit from innovations such as the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, connected cars, and the entire smart city ecosystem that require faster, low-latency connections for the huge amounts of data they produce.

IT managers need to add flexibility while reducing the cost of deploying and managing the infrastructure. For many years, the telecommunications industry has been dominated by proprietary technology models. The need for more capable, agile, and flexible networks requires a different way of thinking based on open source.

“5G runs on open source. 60 percent of all automobiles on the planet ship with open source. The cloud is completely foundational. All of that software is open source, Kubernetes and the projects, some of the cloud data computing foundation. So there is no question about the value and the security of open source. It is far more secure than a proprietary software. Not de facto. I’m not saying pick a piece of software on Github and put it into your grid. But I think when you are talking about enterprise software, you are talking about the capacity to really look, to have all eyes focused on software and to be able to more quickly ensure cybersecurity. That’s something that we take very seriously,” said Goodman.

Meeting the needs of billions of distributed and connected energy devices will require some sort of digital capability to enable communication between these devices. 5G and open source have become a great combination in the telecommunications industry. A key component is the global community development model, where developers collaborate on software innovations and improvements.

“It is essential and critical that not only do utilities develop digital capacity but that they begin to understand 5G, cloud, network management, and begin to think of themselves as network operators as opposed to a utility.

“It is also important that they begin to recognize that micro-transactions and flexibility services are going to be essential to a distributed energy future, where we are orchestrating energy, we are shaping energy as opposed to just energy is on or energy is off,” Goodman continued.

“That’s what coal and fossil fuel enabled us to do but it was extremely inefficient. We probably lost about 60 percent of our energy in that model and so now we need to develop radical energy efficiency so that whatever electron we use is actually being dispatched and used will return to the crib in an efficient and constructive manner,” she said.

In addition to all this, the many freely-available energy resources in the environment are waiting to be deployed at a considerable level to offer a 100% renewable energy grid supported by open-source hardware and software solutions. The whole universe produces energy, including humans, it is up to us to understand how to harvest it by using energy harvesting technologies. The best open source energy systems have no negative effects on the environment, with extremely low costs for the maintenance and operation of equipment.

“Energy. Now is our time”

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