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By | November 9, 2021

Power System Operators Combat Climate Change With Open Source

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Swapnil Bhartiya interviews Arjan Stam director of operations for Alliander the largest distribution utility in the Netherlands along with Lucian Balea open source program director at RTE France’s transmission system operator and the largest TSO in Europe.

As the world begins considering how to move forward after COP26 the role of distribution, transmission, and energy service companies will become critical in decarbonizing power systems and insuring a smooth transition to electric mobility and away from gas, coal, and other fossil-fuels. The challenge will be to flatten and distribute the demand and availability curves that you see from individual or commercial users of energy. What we know is that every household and business has a pattern. If an operator can influence and engineer the distribution profiles by using energy markets, flexibility markets, congestion markets, demand response, and additional tools for flattening the curve as countries and states onboard renewables and EVs, then we have a pathway to decarbonization. This is why some of the earliest contributions in LF Energy are all related to flexibility services.

These changes imply massive transformation of utility businesses; perhaps 50% of this transformation will rely on software. Modern software development suggests that 80% of the stack will be composable open source. Utilities at the leading edge have seen their software development roadmap growing, and for sure this is an important challenge because digitalization is needed to be successful in this transition.

As hard as it may be to admit, we need to acknowledge that with certainty, the effects of climate change will worsen in the coming years. We see the signs around us every where, and if we look at the IPCC reports on the topics, it shows that the situation will worsen even if we meet the ambitious targets that have been set up in the Paris agreements. That means that the pressure and expectation from society is that power system operators must tackle these issues quickly and that the problems will grow long into the future before the climate stabilizes again. Utilities don’t want to be the blocking factor. So transforming our businesses and facilitating this future of non-fossil energy is of key importance for all our companies.

While political agreement and the top-down approach will be the hard work of COP26, on the other side is an even more important bottom-up approach of organizations like LF Energy to build the future with our utility and vendor members. These are the market driven, voluntary actions where the devil is in the details. There is no where else on the planet where companies can pre-competitively build the future, like the Linux Foundation’s LF Energy, where we are discussing and solving many of the details for how power networks will operate.

Lucian and Arjan strongly believe that sharing forces and brains today will help us to be in a better position tomorrow, because the changes that we are talking about are huge transformations. 

Listen here while Lucian and Arjan discuss dynamic system control, sharing resources and visions, and what collaboration has been like.

Read the recent recent opinion piece in Power Magazine: Cooperation Needed to Drive the Energy Transition