Guest: Anna Hermansen (LinkedIn)
Organization: LF Research (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

The Linux Foundation Research (LF Research) partnered with LF Energy, Futurewei, and Intentional Futures to analyze the current state of the microgrid market and the potential for open-source technology to accelerate the adoption of microgrids worldwide.

In this episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk recorded at the 2023 LF Energy Summit in Paris, Anna Hermansen, Ecosystem Manager at LF Research, shares the research findings, which were published in The Open Source Opportunity for Microgrids report.

Solar and other forms of renewable energy have expanded and have become cheaper and more accessible. People are using renewables, whether electric vehicles or heating their home through solar or wind turbines on a farm. 

In Europe, there is a lot of conversation around 1) how to be less reliant on large electric grids where energy could be disrupted by geopolitical issues, and 2) how to democratize the access, generation, and distribution of energy.  

A microgrid is a subset of the larger electric grid. It is a group of interconnected loads that operates as its own entity. It has interconnected resources, such as solar or geothermal energy, that are stored in a battery, which can then be used at a certain time by an individual.

Subject matter experts, advisors, and organizations in the microgrid sector were interviewed to address the following questions:

  • Which players are implementing open-source solutions?
  • How many open-source solutions benefit the issues or obstacles that the sector is facing?
  • What are the obstacles to implementing open source?
  • What opportunities does open source provide in this space?
  • What kind of business models does it enable?
  • What kind of interoperability does it enable in terms of different technologies in a microgrid?
  • What kind of cost reductions and barriers does it lower?

Key findings:

  • Open source in the microgrid space is still nascent and immature.
  • There is a knowledge gap among the big players and incumbents in the energy space around open source, its benefits, and how to implement it.
  • There are financial costs involved when transitioning to open source.
  • There is a need to better educate grid operators and utilities as well as policymakers and regulators on the benefits of open source so that microgrid development is better supported.
  • There needs to be a shift in mindset around how to build out energy infrastructure (micro versus centralized), and a lot of it rests on education, data sharing, and collaboration, which is partly why open source is such a useful tool in this process.
  • Open source can provide 5 value propositions: improve access to microgrid resources, accelerate microgrid design, improve interoperability, enable microgrid business models, and enable market innovation.

LF Research, in partnership with LF Energy, also surveyed utilities on their understanding around open source, particularly as it relates to the ability to transition to cleaner energy and how it can support meeting carbon targets more effectively. Key findings, which were published in the 2023 Energy Transformation Readiness Study include:

  • Utilities are very aware of the benefits that come with digitization and how it can support more energy-efficient processes such as more dynamic demand response, electric vehicle charging, and smart home management.
  • Survey respondents have already implemented their plans to digitize.
  • There were concerns regarding the performance of open-source software, the security and reliability of the software, and the types of vendor support available.

This summary was written by Camille Gregory.

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