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February 7, 2020

Smart Grid Effort Seeks to Boost Coordination

Among the most promising applications of Internet of Things frameworks is helping utilities integrate far-flung power grids, including the growing number of smart devices used to collect customer data.

An expanded open source initiative sponsored by the Linux Foundation aims to help grid operators securely collect user data as well as monitor, control and manage smart devices connected to electrical grids.

The rebranded open source initiative, Grid eXchange Fabric (GXF) was launched by Alliander, the largest power distribution system operator in the Netherlands. “GXF is a major step in reducing the global system integration problems the utility industry is facing and making power grids more efficient and better for the environment,” the Linux Foundation said this week.

The foundation’s LF Energy project seeks to attract thousands of developers to help leverage IoT frameworks for boosting smart grid efficiency. Among the goals is transforming the current power grid to incorporate more clean energy sources such as solar and wind.

The project promotes collaboration among different vendors to develop open source tools that can be share among them. To that end, the project includes a “workflow platform” designed to improve coordination among utilities and energy security monitors.

GFX, which replaced LF Energy’s Open Smart Grid Platform, is designed to allow users to monitor and control hardware such as smart meters. Along with smart metering, promoter said the framework could be used for applications such as microgrids, public lighting and distribution automation.

There is no shortage of smart meters: North American and European utilities have installed millions over the last decade. The catch is that much of the grid data that could be used for decision-making remains largely underutilized.

According to a survey released in January by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 52 U.S. utilities it surveyed “vastly underused” smart grid infrastructure consisting of smart meters, communications networks and data management. The energy group estimates that infrastructure connects half of all smart meters in the United States.

Hence, groups like the Linux Foundation are focusing on information and communications technologies that could be used to better organize and distribute energy data. “There’s a need for better coordination within the energy and electricity sectors,” notes an LF Energy video. Requirements for advancing smart grid technology include better communications among transmission system operators, project officials add. “Better coordination means better decisions.”

Improved coordination via the open source effort is promoted as one way of integrating renewable energy sources onto smart grids, thereby reducing carbon emissions. The LF Energy workflow platform serves as starting point. The platform conforms with European Commission energy and networking specifications.

The platform would allow grid operators to work with regional security coordinators to manage capacity planning and better handle power outages. Participating utilities could coordinate their remedial actions, which would require approval by system operators and security coordinators.

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