As the world is looking at moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources, there is a combined effort from private sector, public sector and consumers to make the much-needed switch to renewables. Energy sector is going through a dual challenge: 1) digital transformation of their own technologies and 2) embracing the challenges posed by renewable energy.
Linux Foundation Energy aka LF Energy was created to work as a catalyst, an accelerator, to these changes, bringing different players of the energy sector together to use each other’s resources and collaborate on putting their transformation on a highway.
In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Lucian Balea, Open Source Program Director at RTE and Jonas van den Bogaard, Solution Architect and Open Source Advocate at Alliander while at Open Source Summit in Dublin, to discuss the state of adoption of open source in the energy sector and some of the key challenges companies are facing. They also dive into the geographical aspect of open source in the energy sector and how they are navigating these issues.
Both Balea and van den Bogaard agree that Open Source Summit is a great opportunity for social connections and feel there is a great momentum in the ecosystem. They feel that it gives people a chance to meet in person and share what they have learnt and achieved on their open source journey. It also allows for a chance to hear what developments are going on with other companies involved in the open source projects.
What is the state of adoption of open source in the energy sector?
While some energy companies have come quite far on their open source journey, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. van den Bogaard tells us that they have multiple open source projects internally and projects they are working on together for both organizations. Certain industries such as telecoms and cloud internet, started to adopt open source a couple of years earlier with both successes and failures to learn from, and now the energy sector can also learn from these early adopters.
Balea explains that it is not just a case of onboarding an organization but rather the entire ecosystem and while RTE and Alliander are front-running open source in the energy industry, they need to get connections with others to grow the ecosystem.
How is political pressure affecting the energy sector?
While the energy sector has traditionally only gained the limelight when things did not work, such as, no electricity or gas, now with the attention on more renewable energy and less reliance on fossil fuels, the story is changing. Yet van den Bogaard feels that this is challenging because of how quickly it is changing and the need for rapid development.
The political context is ramping up the pressure with the energy sector, something that is not expected to decrease in the next few years. The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which analyzed the consequences on various social and economic indicators found that even if energy companies met the ambitious goals that they have, things will get worse. Balea explains that they are currently in the yellow zone but they will enter the reddish zone even if they meet the goals, meaning that the industry has to radically transform at a pace it is not used to.
It needs radical innovation, collaboration and fast-paced testing and deployment of these new technologies. Open source is the only way to achieve this super ambitious challenge.
How does the open source model carry across to less developed geographical areas?
Balea feels that the open source model can be an opportunity for less developed regions since it can help with reuse of all the common planning that is currently developed and could spread at a lower cost globally. Furthermore, he feels that it presents a chance for countries and organizations from countries with less means to get a voice and be a part of a community. van den Bogaard discusses the reciprocal nature of the open source community as a way to get the innovative ideas from developing countries into the spectrum, while also to make the developments they do in Europe and America viable for developing countries to use and adopt. The open source community is open to everyone with inclusive principles, and there is recognition within the community that diversity brings value.
How are local policies handled in the open source community?
While open source is often viewed as global in its initiative, Europe has specific energy policies and frameworks that differ from the rest of the world. Balea explains that when they joined LF Energy and started collaborating with the Linux Foundation, there were questions about whether there should be a local foundation. The members felt that in order to get maximum impact they needed to articulate local policies with what happens on the global scale. LF Europe is an opportunity to create this bridge and reinforce it to connect it with the global community. Since Europe is generally more pro-open source than North America, it is thought that it will act as an enabler for open source and help more members to join the effort.
The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.