Alliander on open source energy software mission

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Dutch network company Alliander is entering into national and international collaborations using open source software to support the energy transition.

The initiative, the latest in a long line of innovations the company has been behind that have gained a lasting value – the formation of the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) and development of the USEF flexibility framework to name a couple of earlier ones – is set to open the way to new collaborations and advances as the energy system becomes more complex.

With open source software, the source code is freely available and can be used, modified and shared by third parties.

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A familiar example of open source is the Linux Foundation and Alliander is a member of the Foundation’s LF Energy initiative collaborating on the development of the OperatorFabric platform for electricity, water and other utility operations among other projects. Features include visualisation to show at a glance the status of the grid, alerting and workflow scheduling.

Other LF Energy collaborations include the Grid eXchange Fabric software platform for hardware monitoring and control in public spaces in use cases including microgrids, smart metering and public lighting, and the CoMPAS project to develop software components for digital substation automation.

Weather data analysis

Another app that Alliander has developed and has newly made open source is the Weather Provider API for easy collection of weather data. Its Short-Term Forecasts project, which forecasts power grid loads up to 48 hours ahead to improve insight and reliability of energy supply, is soon to be open sourced.

The Weather Provider API was developed from the need to easily access the wide range of meteorological information available for forecasting and insights into its historical effects. By combining this data with data about the power grid, Alliander envisages being able to analyse the influence of the weather on the condition of underground grid infrastructure.

The weather has a major influence on possible outages in the power grid. For example, it is known that there is a greater chance of power cuts due to overheating of components due to dry soils during prolonged periods of warm weather. In order to restore power quickly, and preferably to prevent power cuts altogether, it is important to know where and when weak points in the grid may arise.

“Every time Alliander has cooperated with other parties through open source software, the benefit has been evident,” says Judith Scheperboer-Bol, Scrum Master at Alliander in an LF Energy blog posting.

“Alliander is driven by the social importance of keeping energy reliable, affordable and accessible for everyone. They also feel it is important to be conscientious about the costs associated with digitalisation. That is why open source software is becoming increasingly important as we all face the challenges of the future.”