FledgePower is a reference project within LF Energy that is built on top of LF Edge’s Fledge – an industrial IoT gateway. What we believe is important and unique about FledgePower is that rather than starting from scratch, the LF Energy and LF Edge developer community added a power systems use case on top of an already widely successful industrial IoT project. That’s where we got the name – FledgePower!
The project was started by RTE, because their Open Source Program Office (OSPO) developers were looking to solve one of RTE’s biggest problems – how to make old legacy systems communicate with new systems. This is a problem that all system operators struggle with. RTE started FledgePower because they were actually looking for a new generation of software that could help them solve a problem and be able to replace the legacy gateways that are already deployed.
Maintainer Akli Rahmoun shared, if you think about a protocol as a “human language”, then a protocol is the way systems talk to each other. Each component of the system uses a protocol to communicate to the other and to the control room. In the case of multiple systems and tele-control networks, which are actually composed of very different systems, we need to use several protocols. We need to make all the systems which talk their own language, be able to communicate with each other. And this is where we put something in the middle, which is called the protocol translation gateway, to be able to do this job of translating information, which is actually the same information we collect or deliver.
For example, we can collect sensor data from the field, from the substations. This information will be described in some kind of way in the protocol and will be described in another way in another protocol. The job of the gateway of the protocol translation gateway is to be able to make this translation from one language to another, or to search in another way from one protocol to another and then get that data up into our system operations.
The main architecture of FledgePOWER is the Fledge architecture. The thing that is interesting with Fledge, is that it’s a very lightweight software, which is meant to be deployed at the edge on very constraint resources. This is what RTE wants to do in their use case. For example, RTE needs to deploy protocol translation gateways in thousands of substations. In the substations, operators need to be able to deploy very small computers to run software. This is one of the main features of Fledge.
And the project is also making the connection with another reference LFE project: CoMPAS an IEC61850 configurator that will be use to configure FledgePower.
Another benefit is that the plugin feature of FledgePower which allows developers to add new protocols in an easy way. You don’t need rewrite from scratch. You can inherit a lot of the code that is built, and you only need to focus on your very specific protocol when you want to add a new protocol to the system, to the gateway.