LF Energy’s SOGNO project – which means “dream” in Italian and stands for “Service-based Open-source Grid automation platform for Network Operation” – is intended to accelerate the transition of energy production based on fossil fuels to more decentralized energy sources and storage devices that are integrated into power systems. Decentralized energy production can complicate the balance between production and consumption since you need to manage many small production units instead of a few bulk units. That is why future power systems require a larger degree of automation than legacy ones, with software systems ready to support that automation. Not only does this new generation of power system automation software need to process a larger amount of data, but it also needs to deal with a more heterogeneous ecosystem of devices communicating to the automation system than in the past.
The goal of SOGNO, which was originally started at RWTH Aachen University’s Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems, is to provide a modular software solution for power system automation that is easily extendable and that matches the speed at which new types of devices are being connected to the power system. SOGNO takes advantage of cloud and virtualization technologies to scale up with the number of connected devices.
Markus Mirz, Chief Engineer at Fraunhofer Digital Energy and Technical Lead of the SOGNO project, was part of the European H2020 project at RWTH Aachen, which laid the foundation for SOGNO. Markus originally got involved as he appreciates the idea of contributing back to society. He helped bring SOGNO into LF Energy as he saw it as a great way to ensure the future development of the project, and to connect with the larger open source community. While the initial version of SOGNO was the outcome of a single research project, it is now used in many research projects by various contributors and end users.
“I and other contributors have appreciated the opportunity being part of the LF Energy community has provided in terms of enabling collaboration and exchange of ideas with other developers,” said Markus. “Another benefit of hosting the project in LFE is the support with marketing and other activities that are outside of the comfort zone of many developers, like legal questions that you should address when setting up a project.”
The German government recently recognized Antonello Monti of RWTH Aachen for his work creating SOGNO and the great contribution it is making to the transformation of the energy system towards climate neutrality with the innovation prize of North Rhine-Westphalia. Awarded annually, this prize recognizes outstanding achievements and excellent research. Part of the reason Antonello was selected for this award was the appeal of supporting the energy transformation through software. Building new infrastructure is not only very costly but can be very time consuming because you need to ensure that building projects are accepted by local communities; software projects like SOGNO make a difference with a smaller initial cost.
SOGNO has recently received its first requests and contributions from the broader industry, which is a fantastic development, but challenges remain. Most importantly, more contributors are needed to join the project and provide both code and documentation. While the community has stepped up and organized some introductory informational and training sessions, more is always needed to help SOGNO achieve its full potential.
Together with a system operator in Italy, Markus and the rest of the SOGNO community are working on a first production deployment based on SOGNO. The results of this deployment should provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of the software, as well as into what additional features are needed to help it continue to grow.