Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Alliander and LF Energy tackle grid interoperability

Steve Rogerson
February 11, 2020



The Linux Foundation’s LF Energy coalition has partnered Dutch distribution system operator Alliander to use an IoT platform to tackle interoperability on power grids.
 
They are open sourcing the platform, formerly known as Open Smart Grid Platform (OSGP), under LF Energy's umbrella to leverage collaborative development.
 
LF Energy, a Linux Foundation project charged with accelerating the decarbonisation goals of the energy and electricity sectors through open-source technology, announced the Grid eXchange Fabric (GXF) project, a scalable and technology-agnostic industrial IoT platform that allows grid operators to collect data securely and monitor, control and manage smart devices on the grid.
 
Formerly known as OSGP, GXF was created by Dutch distribution system operator Alliander and is the first project contributed by the company to the open-source community since joining LF Energy last October as a premier member.
 
In recent years, grid operators have added operational hardware to the power grid that gathers data through IoT sensors to garner better insight into infrastructure performance. Coupled with utility operational changes are the millions of distributed energy devices coming onto the grid, each of which requires vastly different tools and processes to ensure interoperability. The purpose of GXF is to decrease the overall complexity and associated maintenance costs of accessing these devices by creating a single generic method of abstracting data access.
 
"We have the tools necessary to make our power grid more efficient and better for our environment, but we're running into a system integration problem at a global scale," said LF Energy executive director Shuli Goodman. "Grid operators need a way to cut through the noise of different data access protocols to pull insights from smart devices directly. With the addition of GXF, the Grid eXchange Fabric, we will leverage the shared expertise of our community to tackle this problem head on."
 
GXF lets energy network operators create business applications across multiple use cases. For instance, Alliander is already using GXF to manage public street lights in the Netherlands. Other grid operators have applied GXF as the head-end system, which allows for more data flexibility between smart meters and network operators, while some have used GXF to manage microgrids.
 
Broadly, GXF will be used as a generic connectivity layer to collect and direct large volumes of data for asset monitoring and analytics. In this way, grid operators are preparing themselves to manage torrents of data at the edge of the grid through GXF.
 
"GXF was originally created for our customers to manage some of their more time- and cost-consuming tasks," said Arjan Stam, director of systems operations at Alliander and member of LF Energy's governing board. "But one of our wishes was always to create an independent foundation to facilitate the project and provide it with a neutral home. With LF Energy, we've found that home, and we're looking forward to working with the community there to take GXF to new heights."
 
GXF is LF Energy's seventh project. The other six are: Operator Fabric, a smart assistant for system operators; PowerSyBl, a computing framework for grid simulation and planning; RIAPS, a distributed energy developer platform for smart grid apps such as microgrids and wind generation; Open EEMeter, a consistent treatment of energy meter data for demand flexibility; Energy Market Methods Consortium (EM2) standards that support demand-side flexibility markets; and OEDI, a data platform to enable analytics and research innovation.
 
In addition to Alliander, LF Energy is home to 32 members. The most recent members include Wind River, Cloud Bees, Elering and Monash University, who all joined in January 2020 as general members.
 
Alliander is an energy network company. It transports gas and electricity to more than three million consumers and businesses in the Netherlands each day. Alliander consists of a group of companies employing over 7000 people in total.