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By | October 11, 2023

Harnessing Open Source Technology for Sustainable Energy: Insights from OpenUK’s Open Technology for Sustainability Day

At OpenUK’s recent Open Technology for Sustainability Day event in Edinburgh, Dan Brown, Head of Communications at LF Energy, took the stage to discuss the pivotal role of open source technology in revolutionizing the energy sector and driving sustainability (video follows below). In this post, we’ll delve into the key topics covered in his session, shedding light on the potential of open source technology to transform the energy landscape.

Dan began by introducing LF Energy, an organization committed to leveraging technology to make electricity generation less carbon-intensive. Unlike its sister foundation, the Green Software Foundation, which focuses on reducing the carbon footprint of software, LF Energy concentrates on using technology to decarbonize the broader spectrum of energy production, transmission, distribution, and consumption.

The Energy Transformation Readiness Study

One of the central points of Dan’s presentation was the Energy Transformation Readiness Study. This study aimed to assess how prepared utilities are for the energy transition towards distributed energy resources, such as solar and wind power. The good news is that utilities overwhelmingly recognize the need to digitalize their systems to support this transition. A remarkable 76% of respondents had already developed digitalization plans, with others in the process of doing so.

Dan emphasized that open source technology plays a critical role in this transition. Utilities and energy companies see several benefits in using open source technologies, including cost reduction, faster innovation, and avoiding vendor lock-in. Open source technology brings together diverse stakeholders, including utilities, energy generators, researchers, technology companies, startups, and traditional vendors, fostering collaboration and driving progress.

While open source technology holds tremendous promise, Dan acknowledged that there are barriers to its adoption in the energy sector. These barriers include concerns about performance, support, and security. Identifying these challenges is crucial, as it enables the industry to work towards solutions and best practices that will encourage the adoption of open source technologies.

The Open Source Opportunity for Microgrids

Another key focus of Dan’s presentation was on microgrid technology. Microgrids, smaller localized energy grids, offer a promising solution for regions without access to centralized grids. Open source technology has the potential to advance the microgrid market by promoting consensus, collaboration, and interoperability between different microgrid systems. This would facilitate the expansion of microgrids and contribute to decarbonization efforts.

The Open Source Sustainability Ecosystem

Dan concluded his talk by sharing insights from LF Energy’s analysis of over 1,300 open source projects with a sustainability focus. These projects span a wide range of areas, including energy systems, atmosphere monitoring, and more. The analysis highlighted the importance of longevity, active contributors, and collaboration within the open source sustainability ecosystem.