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Open Source: Applying Innovation to the Slow-Moving Energy Industry

By Dick Weisinger

The energy and utility industries are known to be conservative and slow moving in adopting new technology. Cooperatively sharing information is something that utilities don’t do.

But that is changing. As sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind become more cost competitive, and as regulations related to the reduction of carbon emissions require stricter compliance, the industry is being forced into the corner and being made to accept change.

Loek Bakker, head of information management at Dutch energy distribution company TenneT, said that “the energy industry isn’t known for being innovative. I think we’re quite a traditional industry.”

Arjan R. Stam, the director of network management at Alliander, a Dutch energy company, said that “as utilities we don’t cooperate much, we don’t have the pleasure of sharing information with each other.”

Part of the change is the availability of Open Source software specifically targeting the energy industry. The Linux Foundation, for example, has started a non-profit initiative called LF Energy.

Shuli Goodman, executive director of LF Energy, said that “our mission is to accelerate the energy transition by hosting, building, facilitating and enabling the distributive computing paradigm as it relates to distributed energy resources. That is everything from control infrastructure to the foundations for new markets, micro-transactions, the edge devices, the whole thing… Open source is an intellectual property agreement that enables collective action.”

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