Interview: Shuli Goodman

Executive Director at LF Energy

Energetica India catches up with Shuli Goodman to learn about LF Energy Open Source Initiative

November 21, 2019. By News Bureau


Que: Please tell our readers about LF Energy

Ans: LF Energy is a nonprofit, vendor-neutral initiative from The Linux Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate the energy, electricity, and electric mobility sectors' worldwide decarbonization goals through open-source technology.

A first-of-its-kind initiative, LF Energy provides the 21st-century plan of action to solving climate change through open frameworks, reference architectures and a support ecosystem of complementary projects. In addition to RTE, members include Energinet, TenneT, Alliander, Elering, IBM, Recurve, Stanford University, NREL, OSISoft, Unicorn, Root9B and more.

Que: As the transition towards Clean Energy picks up pace globally, what kind of significant infrastructure will be required the smooth transition as well as tackling Climate Change?

Ans: Central to the new energy paradigm is the integration of billions of devices - automobiles, PV, batteries, homes, buildings, wind, hydro - which will introduce unparalleled quantities of data. Utilities have not been designed to manage this torrent of data. Central to the new infrastructure will be a digital and virtualized substation to facilitate communication across high, medium, and low voltage, as well as communication between IT and OT.

We will need billions of new energy devices that will help to manage, coordinate, and choreograph flexibility services at scale and modulate energy flows.

Que: How does LF Energy plan to facilitate building open source infrastructure to deliver unprecedented innovation in renewable energy?

Ans: LF Energy is an ecosystem. We are using a permissive IT license to enable and facilitate multi-actors to invest in enterprise utility-scale software.

The first part of what we do has to do with Intellectual property. The Linux Foundation has a track record of creating neutral environments for industry-wide collaboration and collective investment. The second part is around the community and being able to establish a governance model that separates business from code so no single actor can be privileged. Because of the permissive IP licensing Investments can be made than support scaling.

Additional services that LF Energy provides include leadership and program management, infrastructure, marketing, public relations, events, and training. All of these enable us to take software and scale globally.

Que: What are the challenges faced by the Energy Industry to Go Green and how can be addressed through technology innovations?

Ans: There’s a myth called the Gordian knot. This knot represents a problem, and if you pull on one end of the knot everything gets tighter. Traditionally, the energy sector was stable, persistent and slow-moving. That was value and a designed benefit of the system. Now, due to the complexity, if you pull on anything, it gets tighter. And, it is causing us to move too slowly to transform. We must figure out how we can cut the knot and accelerate innovation to provide digital access to the electrical infrastructure. This includes countries like India that are seeking to build economies at scale and create a middle class.

In place of having access to commodity hardware and software, India and other emerging markets are choosing cheaper sources of energy such as diesel and generation which have higher greenhouse gas outputs and hindering the transition to clean, green and renewable energy.

To cut the knot, LF Energy’s role is to facilitate a new commodity-layer of software that allows the commodity of hardware to accelerate innovation and increase value over time by decreasing the cost. That’s one of our core values -- to shift the economics.

Que: Please tell us about key projects undertaken by LF Energy to date? Do you plan to venture into Indian Energy Market?

Ans: The India market is new to LF Energy, although we hope to have a long working relationship. One area is the digital substation project, which is a Sandbox project. Tata Power has been coming to the meetings and we hope they will continue to be involved. We would love to be more visible in the Indian energy market, particularly in the space of mini-, Nano- and micro-grids, as well as community-based electrification.

We have six projects that we started LF Energy: OperatorFabric, PowSyBl, RIAPS, OpenEEmeter, Energy Market Methods Consortium (EM2), and Open Energy Data Initiative (OEDI).

You can read more about them here:

Que: With digitization playing an important role in the present energy sector, what future do you see for technology innovation like open source software?

Ans: Open source is the future. It is how we are going to solve this problem, and it is inevitable. If you look at historical trends and hyperscaling, every single instance was built on open source. The energy sector is just starting to wake up to open source. What they don’t understand is that it’s not just about having a repository on GitHub-there are 68 million of those. It is about the governance and the policies around it that enable it to occur at scale.

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