The Open Source Opportunity for Microgrids

Researching a nascent and niche technology
Overview

The Linux Foundation, a prominent non-profit open-source technology consortium, embarked on an ambitious research study in 2022, focusing on the intricate challenges and promising opportunities associated with the democratization of microgrids through open-source tooling and collaboration. Microgrids are defined as a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the larger grid. 

On the basis of their firm commitment to accelerating decarbonization efforts and fostering groundbreaking energy innovation, the Foundation hoped the study would support efforts to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate collaboration and innovation in the energy industry.

To execute this comprehensive endeavor, The Linux Foundation sought research help from the iF team’s Jessica Groopman and Jeff Lindstrom, with support from Peter Asmus, a distinguished subject matter expert from AutoGrid. Once complete, the study analyzed market trends, obstacles, and potential benefits of adopting open-source technologies in microgrids.

“We were impressed by the iF team’s dedication to detail and persistence in their research. Microgrids are a critical technology to support improved energy access, resilience, and decarbonization. iF synthesized information into a comprehensive report that will help make the open sourcing of this important technology more accessible and actionable for a wider group of stakeholders.”
- Hilary Carter, SVP Research and Communications
“We were impressed by the iF team’s dedication to detail and persistence in their research. Microgrids are a critical technology to support improved energy access, resilience, and decarbonization. iF synthesized information into a comprehensive report that will help make the open sourcing of this important technology more accessible and actionable for a wider group of stakeholders.”
- Hilary Carter, SVP Research and Communications
What we made
  • Background Research & Literature Review: We studied various reports, trends, policies, and information related to microgrids, including electric vehicles and utilities.
  • Qualitative Interview Questionnaire Design: We developed a set of questions to discuss the microgrid industry, barriers to open-source adoption, and opportunities for reducing carbon emissions and making microgrids accessible to more people.
  • Conducted Primary Research: We interviewed around 20 to 25 experts and stakeholders in the microgrid industry and open-source technology. We handled outreach, scheduling, recording, note-taking, and analysis.
  • Findings Analysis: Our team synthesized all interview notes, analyzed secondary reports and trade publications, canvassed existing open source microgrid projects, evaluated the open-source opportunity across the microgrids technology stack, and incorporated additional content provided by the Linux Foundation and project stakeholders.
  • Final Report: We wrote a detailed report summarizing our findings, examining the current state of open-source adoption in the microgrid industry, identifying challenges and opportunities, and providing recommendations to accelerate open-source usage for carbon reduction and accessible microgrid development.

Access the full report here. 

Impact

The final report was published and made accessible to the public by the Linux Foundation, providing industry stakeholders with valuable information to drive the democratization of energy systems and the advancement of open-source technologies in the microgrid industry. 

While the long-term impact of our collaboration is yet to be realized, the study will contribute to efforts to accelerate energy access and resilience, support decarbonization, and promote innovation in the Energy industry by offering guidance, potential solutions, and examples of successful open-source projects in microgrid development. 

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