LF Energy announces two open-source initiatives to accelerate decarbonisation and the global shift to green energy

Source: press release, 12 April 2021

illustration: LF Energy
illustration: LF Energy

LF Energy, a Linux Foundation project seeking to accelerate the energy transition of the world’s power and transportation systems through open-source technology, announced two initiatives to accelerate its mission to decarbonise the world’s economies through software, collaboration and leveraged development.

Service-based Open-source Grid automation platform for Network Operation of the future (SOGNO) is a project creating plug-and-play, cloud-native microservices to implement the next generation of data-driven monitoring and control systems. A second initiative, Power System Network Operations (PSNO), is an end-user, utility-driven working group that is defining an open-source strategy and approach to the “control room of the future”.

“The shift to renewables doesn’t come with the flip of a switch and is a monumental effort requiring collaboration on a global scale,” says Dr Shuli Goodman, executive director of LF Energy. “Decarbonisation is a complex problem, and it’s only growing more complex as new technologies demand more from power system networks. The evolution of a low-inertia grid due to the onboarding of distributed energy resources is requiring that network operators find new mechanisms to balance supply and demand through flexibility and automation. With collaborative, open-source initiatives like SOGNO and PSNO, we can overcome these challenges.”

In addition to launching these two initiatives, LF Energy recently welcomed its newest members, ZEDEDA, a California-based company building an orchestration solution for distributed edge computing, and OpenUK, a London-based nonprofit supporting open-source collaboration and open technologies within the United Kingdom.

“We’re entering the era of the ecosystem, with interconnected solutions increasingly backed by a significant service component,” says Jason Shepherd, VP Ecosystem, ZEDEDA. “This applies to all verticals, and especially the energy space as macro challenges require industry collaboration to enable providers to thrive while improving the consumer experience. Many of the challenges are at the edge where the physical and digital worlds meet amid rapidly transforming power networks. As the leader in orchestration for distributed edge computing, ZEDEDA is excited to join LF Energy to foster innovation and balance in the energy ecosystem through open-source collaboration.”

“OpenUK joins LF Energy in a positive step to promote smarter use of data within the utilities and energy sectors, powered by open-source approaches,” says OpenUK CEO Amanda Brock. “We are pleased to be actively engaged with the UK energy sector and support the vision for more efficient use of data, technology and infrastructure based on open principles.”

SOGNO accelerates grid automation
Today’s grid automation software is often built in a monolithic way and cannot be extended easily, nor does it allow operators to leverage the best solutions across multiple vendors. At the same time, grid demands grow as technologies like customer-owned PV rooftops and batteries, utility-scale wind and solar, along with the rapid transition to electric vehicles (EV) — and the charging stations sprouting to support them — reach for mass adoption. Keeping up with these additions to the power ecosystem requires network operators to undertake the increasingly difficult task of achieving grid automation.

The modular microservices based approach of SOGNO enables a multi-vendor/supplier network operations solution that can be adapted faster. With the integration of real-time simulation, SOGNO supports seamless integration of development, testing and deployment. Additionally, new automation functionalities can be developed and thoroughly tested against a virtual real-time representation of the power system before deployment.

The SOGNO approach was originally developed within a project of the same name by the European Commission and coordinated by Ericsson. RWTH Aachen University developed most of the code and made it available as open source. Now, scientists from Fraunhofer FIT – Digital Energy and Research Center Jülich are part of the development team.

“The time for the energy transition is now,” says Dr Antonello Monti, professor at RWTH Aachen University and Group Leader at Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy. “We need to move at unprecedented speed. Open Source is the only way to reach this speed. Other sectors already showed the way, and it is now time for energy to do the same. Working with LF Energy is an opportunity to create a unique culture of change in energy.”

With PSNO, the control room of the future has no walls
PSNO will enable a future with interconnected electric power systems that are operated pro-actively and in seamless coordination with stakeholders using zero-trust and open-source information exchange systems in real-time.

The LF Energy end-user utility working group seeks to enable power system operators to use a highly organised set of next-generation analytical tools and applications to effectively monitor and control the future power system. Potential issues on any system are identified well in advance and remedial options, which are optimised by value and system impacts, and are either presented to the operator or deployed automatically. The operator supervises the automated system, which is cyber-resilient, trust-less and intervenes and overrides the automation with manual control when necessary.

“By renaming the control room to PSNO we acknowledge that there may be no ‘room’ at all, and ‘control’ may not be the dominant management tool the operator will use to ensure the stability, safety, and reliability of power systems.” Goodman says. “We stand at the beginning of a great paradigm change.”

The PSNO working group plans to open the initiative to OEMs, and infrastructure, software and hardware providers to join with LF Energy utility members. Initial contributions include a host of new open-source software projects for short-term forecasting, congestion management, power system modeling, power system automation, market settlements, data and services, and network model management. Participation in the early stage of planning and launching of the PSNO portfolio of projects will be limited to members. Project governance and participation will be open to all once a code base has been released publicly.

Goodman, and 41 speakers from 11 countries, along with attendees from over 20 countries, will have the opportunity to hear directly about SOGNO and PSNO at the LF Energy Spring Summit 2021, a half-day virtual event on 14 April (15 April in Asia/Australia). Register here.

Summit goers will hear from industry leaders from Alliander, the European Commission, the Florence School of Regulation, Microsoft, TenneT, RTE, RWTH Aachen University, VMware and more on topics including microgrids, best practices in open source development, and price-based grid coordination. View the schedule here.