Linux Foundation Brings Power of Open Source to Energy Sector

Open-source technologies have been used to transform and innovate across multiple industries, and now the Linux Foundation is bringing that power to the energy industry in an effort that could have wide-ranging benefits.

LF Energy

The Linux Foundation launched on July 12 its latest effort—LF Energy, an open-source coalition for the energy and power management sector.

The LF Energy coalition is being backed by French transmission system operation RTE, Vanderbilt University and the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). With LF Energy, the Linux Foundation is aiming to replicate the success it has seen in other sectors, including networking, automotive, financial services and cloud computing.

"The LF Energy Foundation will be an umbrella project of the Linux Foundation, supporting numerous separate and individual projects within the energy and electricity sectors, similar to Hyperledger, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and LF Networking," Shuli Goodman, LF Energy executive director, told eWEEK. "Like many Linux Foundation projects, including Linux and AGL [Automotive Grade Linux], LF Energy is building the plumbing upon a common infrastructure to enable energy companies and solution providers to differentiate at higher value layers and services."

The Linux Foundation is a multi-stakeholder organization that hosts multiple efforts as part of its Collaborative Projects roster. The overall goal of the Linux Foundation is to help enable open source code development and collaboration processes. Goodman noted that the open-source model framework that LF Energy will be working toward will help reduce cost and integration complexity at non-differentiating layers. As a result, she said power system providers will be empowered to achieve time to market, scale and efficiency much faster than ever before.

LF Energy Projects

There are four initial projects that are part of LF Energy, with more likely to be added in the coming months. The OperatorFabric is a smart assistant for system operators. The Let's Coordinate project builds on the OperatorFabric to enable operator collaboration. The Resilient Information Architecture Platform for Smart Grid (RIAPS) provides services for building effective distributed applications. The PowSyBl Framework provides reusable modular components for performance computing platforms that enable grid modeling.

PowSyBl is RTE’s high-performance computing platform for real-time to long-term planning and simulation that has been tested and used with 10,000 cores, according to Goodman. She said it will be integrated into OperatorFabric to drive artificial intelligence and machine learning for remediation and decision support.

"RTE developed the OperatorFabric Project and the Let's Coordinate Project internally and delivered the PowSyBL as an open-source project hosted on GitHub," Goodman said. "The Resilient Information Architecture Platform for Smart Grid project [RIAPS] is a second year ARPA-E [Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy] project, developed mainly by Vanderbilt University, which is hosted on GitHub."

With some open-source efforts, the goal is to create a reference architecture that organizations can implement. Goodman said LF Energy's goal is to curate and standardize open-source reusable components that use open APIs and interfaces through project communities so that the energy ecosystem can then adopt into platforms and solutions. 

"We also believe there is no one reference architecture because this is such a complex layered environment," Goodman said. "There are so many parts to the energy economy."

Open Source 

The impact of LF Energy will not just be limited to energy operators and can potentially have impact across multiple Linux Foundation efforts, data centers and industries.

"Power and energy are the lifeblood of our economy," Goodman said. "LF Energy can potentially work across projects to capitalize on efforts to globally decarbonize our economies through energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation and communication across the various system interfaces."

Goodman said she sees synergies already with the Linux Foundation's automotive and networking efforts. She said the communication between hardware and devices is pretty much the same for networking and energy systems, despite each industry thinking the problem is uniquely their own. 

"There are already signs that NFV [network function virtualization] and SDN [software-defined networking] will be the next big thing for energy," Goodman said. "In a year from now, I'd like to see LF Energy projects in data centers and electric mobility, addressing use cases for connected assets, buildings, vehicles, distribution systems and homes."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.