A fundamental part of meeting the objectives of the United Nations Climate Conference will depend on the acceleration of power system network transformation. As it stands today, future targets will not be met, complicated by the fact that clean energy initiatives such as renewable energy and electric vehicles cause increasing fluctuations in power supply and demand that are difficult for grid operators to control and optimize.
To make power grids more efficient and better for the environment, grid operators need easier access to devices in the field.
But when devices don’t talk to each other, or to IT systems, that doesn’t happen.
Grid eXchange Fabric (GXF) breaks that logjam.
The platform converts protocols to one standard data format so internal systems can communicate to devices in the field.
With this capability, grids will become both smart and interoperable, and utilities will be more flexible to meet ever changing conditions.
GXF is “the link between the IT world and the devices in the fields,” says Robert Tusveld, Alliander Solution Architect.
GXF already manages 300,000 devices, with plans to go to six million. Alliander uses it to switch on and off public lighting in the Netherlands, to communicate with smart meters and to do low-folded measurements to check grid congestion.
The project started at Alliander and became part of LF Energy because Alliander is convinced that companies have to collaborate via open source to meet the climate change challenges at hand.
“Because of the energy transition and its urgency, we cannot do it alone,” says Maarten Mulder, Alliander Product Owner. “When we have GXF as a platform and we have the functionality, for example, to read out smart meters and the smart meter head-ends, then we also can contact the device suppliers and ask them to work together to make new functionalities also for the energy transition.”
One of the GXF use cases for Alliander is to measure substations and grid congestion. That helps the utility stabilize and get information out of the field and better see what is happening.
“We cannot manage the network, but we can see what happens. And that’s, I think, the first step,” says Mulder.
GXF is not only a protocol translator, it also fosters functionality for lifecycle management, for configuration management and key management.
Alliander is the main contributor to the GXF project, but it hopes that other utilities join in under the umbrella of LF Energy to move the platform forward.
All utilities “run into the same situations like the congestion management that needs to be solved. There are a lot of devices in the field that we need to communicate with … There are a lot of different … protocols,” Tusveld says. A generic platform “could solve a lot of these problems and help the companies get a better, more efficient solution.”
For more information or to contribute, visit GXF on GitHub here.
Key to substation automation is LF Energy’s Configuration Modules for Power Industry Automation Systems (CoMPAS) project, announced in 2020. CoMPAS should enable grid operators to manage the transition to clean energy by better handling fluctuations in supply from renewable resources and demand from electric vehicles.
As the world begins considering how to move forward after COP26 the role of distribution, transmission, and energy service companies will become critical in decarbonizing power systems and insuring a smooth transition to electric mobility and away from gas, coal, and other fossil-fuels.
FledgePower is a reference project within LF Energy that is built on top of LF Edge’s Fledge – an industrial IoT gateway. What we believe is important and unique about FledgePower is that rather than starting from scratch, the LF Energy and LF Edge developer community added a power systems use case on top of an already widely successful industrial IoT project. That’s where we got the name – FledgePower!