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LF Energy’s 2021 Summit Sparks Sustainability

LF Energy, an open-source foundation, recently had its Spring Summit. Executive Director Shuli Goodman discusses the event, LF Energy’s overarching goals, the future of sustainable energy and more.

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LF Energy, an open-source organization within The Linux Foundation ecosystem dedicated to energy and power system transformation through open-source software, hosted the LF Energy Spring Summit on April 14, 2021. The summit was a virtual event, but still had record-breaking attendance, with 89% of registered people attending. And the summit was a hit, with 89% of respondents rating the event as “excellent,” according to Shuli Goodman, executive director, LF Energy.
 
The summit had two keynote speakers—Goodman herself, and Cheryl Hung—among almost 30 other presentations and panels on various topics ranging from grid coordination, digital substations, demand response, software supply chains and open-source sustainability.
 
The high attendance and overall success of the event is due in part to a new model of organization and participation that LF Energy tried this year.
 
“In the past, what we've done in order to do conferences is curate everything. This time, we organized a conference committee who came together and reviewed the responses to a call for proposals.  It was a huge leap forward,” Goodman reflects.
 
“The other thing that was made visible by the Summit is the collaboration across projects. That's also new. When we first started LF Energy, projects were complete silos. It's been two and a half years of helping to build capacity, create an environment of coordination, collaboration and a vision that enables folks putting things together into software reference architectures that they're using to manage the grid,” says Goodman.

Decarbonizing Energy With Open-Source Software 

LF Energy’s mission as an open-source foundation is to provide a collaborative space for stakeholders to decarbonize and transform energy and power systems to onboard renewables and electric mobility. Currently, about 75% of our planet’s carbon emissions can be solved through the electrification of transport and energy.  
 
“Our gross domestic product globally has grown at the exact same rate that our carbon emissions have grown, and at the same rate that the amount of the fossil fuels we use has grown,” Goodman explains. “It’s an incredibly complex task to transform power systems to move to renewable and intermittent energy and it requires also really transforming all the things that we have that consume electricity.”
 
By focusing on digitization, LF Energy is aiming to decarbonize energy by supporting open-source software. Open-source software caught Goodman’s attention for its ability to help solve problems like transitioning to e-mobility, decarbonizing the grid and other urbanization solutions.

LF Energy and The Linux Foundation

“When I thought about bringing LF Energy into The Linux Foundation, it was partly about DNA—that we need to bring the DNA of The Linux Foundation of digital natives, of digitalization and kind of inoculate power systems with it,” Goodman says.  
 
The desire for the collaboration and innovation that comes with open-source software is what led to their partnership, as Goodman explains.
 
“What I recognized from an innovation perspective is that the Linux kernel is one of the greatest examples of human cooperation and collaboration. There were no standing armies, no one was killed, and there were no politicians, yet the code that was hacked in a dorm room in Helsinki ignited a movement of developers that collectively built the digital plumbing that runs the planet,” Goodman says. 
 
Working with The Linux Foundation, LF Energy has been focusing on creating a collaborative approach to developing code that can aid power systems around the world in electrification and becoming more sustainable.
 
“The biggest business case for what open source has done is that it allows for the commodification of software and hardware, and in turn enables vendors to climb the value ladder. So, rather than everybody solving these commodity problems, it allows people to cooperate on the commodity parts, which leads to commodity hardware, and eventually plug and play. The non-differentiating code frees developers and businesses to solve higher value problems,” explains Goodman.

The Growing Network of LF Energy Projects

Recent projects from LF Energy include Grid eXchange Fabric—a software that provides hardware monitoring; Operator Fabric—which works as an assistant for system operators; and many more. LF Energy doubled its projects in 2020, and is expected to double them again in 2021, according to Goodman.
 
To address climate collapse, the need decarbonize our economies and transition to sustainable energy is growing. Goodman sees the work that LF Energy is doing as a great opportunity for creating our together.
 
A big problem Goodman has seen with past energy innovations is the disregard for the externalities that are created. We have to be vigilant to not recreate problems like carbon and methane pollution. With batteries, for example, while they hold promise and are critical to the energy transition, we have to be careful with the mining, precious metals, and waste they create. 
 
“I’m hopeful that this next generation and the generations that follow will be much more thoughtful about our relationship to the natural world,” Goodman says. 
 
If you missed the LF Energy Summit or want to know more, the recordings of all the panels and speakers are available for viewing on YouTube here
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