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The Future of Energy is Shared Technology Innovation

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By: Matthew Williams, Founder, Director, and Chief Technology Officer, Faraday Grid Ltd.

The electricity system is the biggest and one of the most complex machines ever built. In recent decades, this machine has begun to undergo a radical transition, with both the way we generate and use electricity evolving. In the midst of this, however, the power grid has not been able to keep up pace, which already manifests in reliability issues, such as power disturbances or even blackouts, and ever-increasing electricity costs.

The primary approach to address this so far has been to compensate for the grid’s weaknesses by adding external mitigating technologies; an approach unsustainable in the face of the fundamental energy transition we are experiencing. The electricity system needs a revolution, and it needs it now. To enable this at the pace necessary can only be a matter of collective effort. For this, the energy community needs an open source environment that facilitates collaboration and fuels innovation.

Over the last century, our society flourished thanks to the availability of reliable and affordable electricity. During this time, nearly every aspect of our life, including our entire economy became dependent on it. As our values and behaviors are shifting, our approach to electricity is evolving as well; with ever-increasing energy use on the consumption side, and variable renewables taking up rising portions in the energy mix on the generation side.

In the meantime, the delivery system underpinning all this, the electricity grid has remained fundamentally the same since its invention over one-hundred years ago. This is a problem, because the grid was not designed for power flows of modern electricity use and generation, and these changes are rapidly driving its architecture close to a breaking-point.

The only reason it is still able to fulfil its duty of supplying energy right now is due to grid operators investing substantially into various mitigating technologies. These are band aid solutions individually added on top of the system, that are able reactively address symptoms of an unsuitable grid. However, at a great cost: they heavily increase the complexity of the electricity system. Looking at the system as a whole, complexity can only mean two things: increased fragility and increased costs; two things that directly contradict our intention to ensure supply of reliable and affordable electricity.

It is clear that ultimately, a system-wide solution is the way forward. Nonetheless, there are countless players shaping the energy sphere who operate independently, each using their personalized tools and solutions. In other words, the pieces of hardware and software that enable us to have an energy system are not designed to be interoperable. This results in the different companies, who own and operate various parts of the system, not being able to share information with each other at all, simply because that is in different formats – despite being connected by physical power lines.

Currently, too much creative time is wasted among key shapers of energy just finding ways to work together, as opposed to focusing on actual innovation. This is a critical issue to be resolved, as realizing a sustainable energy system that continues to bring prosperity will no doubt require the energy community to come together in close collaboration.

As a technology, the internet has completely outpaced all other technologies over the last twenty- thirty years. What enabled it to grow and scale to add so much value so quickly? It had some fantastic minds working on it, for sure. But the key was that its global crowd of developers agreed on a shared set of tools. Using these, each participant is able to shape the world wide web with their individual value, and we know this will continue to be the case.
This is what we need in energy. We can be certain that no one technology, company, or academic institution will be able to comprehensively resolve the systemic issues the energy system is facing by themselves. We need a global collaboration – and to enable that, a shared set of tools, a common architecture, a framework that enables all players of energy to contribute to the system most efficiently.

A common platform will speed up technological innovation, by ensuring that participants are no longer limited by the lack of interoperability. Rather, they are free to focus on adding the unique value they provide; ranging from little blockchain startups to large utilities.
Importantly, there is no central authority who sets the rules in an open source system, the group selects the optimal solution from the pool of multi-disciplinary perspectives. Rather than following a subjective decision, an entire community is available to constantly define, change, edit, and improve what the framework is.

At Faraday Grid, we are building a physical platform that will enable the plethora of technologies shaping the energy transition, ones that already exist and the ones yet to come. Faraday is a Founding member of LF Energy, because we not only share a common vision – enabling a future-proof energy system – but see no alternative to achieve this, other than through open-source collaboration.

LF Energy is an open source initiative, focused on the power systems’ sector, overseen and hosted at the Linux Foundation. LF Energy provides a neutral, collaborative environment to build the digital foundations that enable the “electrification of everything to scale” to transform the world’s relationship to energy. The Linux Foundation has led initiatives to modernize industries including telecommunications, financial services, automobiles, filmmaking, consumer products and more through the use of open source, and the time is right to do the same for power systems.

I am excited to represent both LF Energy and Faraday Grid at DistribuTECH in New Orleans this year, where I will expand on why we believe an open source system is a necessary foundation for a prosperous energy future. If you’ll be at the event, I invite you to come see my talk (details below) and/or shoot an email to connect to: luca [dot] mezossy-dona [at] faradaygrid [dot] com.

The Future of Energy is Shared Technology Innovation
Room: Exhibit Floor Booth 11456
Tuesday, February 05, 2019: 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Track: Digitalizing the Grid

Open Source Innovation to Power the Energy Transition

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As we end 2018, I wanted to reengage with the growing Linux Foundation Energy (LF Energy) community to say thank you for being on the frontlines of transforming our global electricity systems. Our work is an epic responsibility given the pressing planetary issues we face in the next 10 years to globally reduce carbon from our electricity and transportation sectors by 40%, and then by 2050, to get to 100% to mitigate the worst of the climate crisis.

With your participation, leadership, and membership in LF Energy we can accelerate the energy transition to decarbonize the world’s economies. There is no better home for building the shared technology innovations that will speed the energy transition, than the Linux Foundation. The LF has provided the neutral home for some of the greatest industrial transformations of our time — whether the Linux OS, or in networking, automobiles, banking, blockchain, cloud, and deep learning.

It is with excitement, that I invite you to join LF Energy either as a founding Governing Board member, or as a General or Associate member. Together we will define, build, and support the shared digital foundations to speed the energy transition. This is your opportunity to have a seat at the table from the beginning and we need you there!

All our Q1 efforts are pointed towards the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Leadership Summit in Half Moon Bay, March 12-14, 2019. This is an invitation-only event for member companies and where LF Energy will have its first Governing Board meeting. We are planning to announce the LFE Founding members in early 2019 ahead of this event.

If you would like to talk about corporate or organizational membership, please feel free to reach out to me or please make a meeting here. I am happy to send additional information and also discuss your vision and needs.

In closing, I also want to thank the pioneer attendees who came to the inaugural LF Energy Summit, October 24th, in Edinburgh, UK. The event was a great success and brought together power system engineers with open source developers to start building a community. You can find all the great content from Edinburgh available for viewing here.

I want to wish you a very healthy and happy New Year. 2019 and 2020 are going to be two of the most important years of our lives. Let’s do this together. We’ve got this!

In Partnership,

Shuli Goodman
Executive Director, LF Energy
sgoodman@lfenergy.org
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Schedule a meeting
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Wanted: 10,000 Developers to Electrify the Planet

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In mid-July, The Linux Foundation launched LF Energy with support from RTE, Europe’s biggest transmission power systems operator, the Electric Power Research Institute, the European Network of Transmission System Operators, and others, in a bid to speed technological innovation and accelerate the energy transition across the planet. System operators, and the utilities that bring electricity to our homes, businesses, and soon our vehicles are on the frontlines in the battle against climate change.

The digitalization of energy heralds the advent of a new age for electricity that will be organized around highly flexible and heterogeneous energy devices and sensors requiring advanced communication capacity between systems, people, and things. Up until now, power systems have been an asset-heavy industry (think coal-fired plants, transformers, and substations) with centralized control and one-way communication. The future grid is composed of distributed energy resources that can be aggregated and shaped to provide reliable electricity when variable resources like the sun and wind are orchestrated with battery storage to shape loads and shave peaks. The complexity of this cannot be managed with top-down control but will require highly sophisticated, automated, and self-aware digital intelligence spanning previously distinct sectors such as transportation, telecommunications, banking, and built environments.

Read More on the Linux Foundation’s Blog »

Jim Zemlin Blog: The Linux Foundation Transforms the Energy Industry with New Initiative: LF Energy

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We are thrilled to introduce the new LF Energy initiative to support and promote open source in the energy and electricity sectors. LF Energy is focused on accelerating the energy transition, including the move to renewable energy, electric mobility, demand response and more.

Open source has transformed industries as vast and different as telecommunications, financial services, automobiles, healthcare, and consumer products. Now we are excited to bring the same level of open collaboration and shared innovation to the power systems industry.

Read More on Jim Zemlin’s Blog »