New approach to automating peer-to-peer renewables distribution


From pv magazine USA

LF Energy and Sony Computer Science Laboratories have developed a novel approach to automating the peer-to-peer distribution of renewable energy through microgrids.

Their Hyphae initiative aims to make microgrids more resilient. It envisions doing that by adapting the Sony business unit’s Autonomous Power Interchange System software to work with AC grids.

The partners said that enabling resilient, peer-to-peer microgrid energy trading will allow even the most remote communities to store and distribute energy without connecting to large-scale power stations or distribution networks.

As envisioned, Hyphae will enable the connection of buildings, homes, and energy-consuming devices to energy-producing devices like storage, EV batteries, and PV. At the core is physical peer-to-peer (P2P) trading.

The energy sector is a “complicated beast” that is shifting from centralized fossil-fired generation to distributed resources, said Dr. Shuli Goodman, executive director of LF Energy, in a recent interview with pv magazine USA. She said that the grid of the future likely will not be a grid at all, but something closer to the mass of branching, threadlike organisms known as hyphae that underlie forest structures. That means the future grid would be made up of cloud, data, artificial intelligence, 5-G communications, and edge computing, which brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed.

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LF Energy is a Linux Foundation nonprofit seeking to accelerate the energy transition of the world’s grids and transportation systems through open source. The organization was recently invited to take part as the government of U.S. President Joe Biden worked to develop its climate plan. Goodman gave the incoming administration a number of recommendations, including the following:

  • Making open source the de facto standard for all federally funded projects
  • Building capacity with the labs, Department of Energy, vendors, suppliers, and grantees
  • Shifting to a cloud-native and service view of the grid

Open source gained an advocate in the new administration when Biden named David Recordon – who has a background in open source, open standards, and security – to serve as the new White House director of technology.

The partnership with Sony that was announced on Feb. 16 is expected to bring LF Energy closer to its goal of building an interoperable AC- and DC-ready microgrid that is self-contained, operational off-grid, and able to connect to an electrical distribution network with utility oversight.

“I think we are at the very beginning of being able to harness, control, and optimize both supply and demand,” Goodman said.

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