POWER December 2021 - 14

O&M
Rethinking Software
Development: How Open
Source Is Defining a New
Era for Energy and Utilities
They say that if you put good out into the
world, it will come back to you. That might
not be an idea people normally associate
with the software development industry,
but that idea more or less perfectly
describes the open-source community.
For that, and many other reasons, open
source is something that many providers
not only embrace, but also include as
part of their business model.
As opposed to proprietary software,
open-source code allows for transparency
in its development or origins, built on the
belief that better software and stronger
communities are only possible when technology
is accessible to everyone. To realize
this vision, many businesses endeavor
to build the digital future by investing their
time and resources into open-source projects,
including XEN, FINOS, DRUPAL,
APACHE, and OSDU.
One such industry, where external
enterprises often help drive business
architecture by deploying open-source
software and technology, is energy and
utilities-an ever-evolving and volatile
sector. Although typically reluctant to
move away from their legacy systems
and processes due to a lack of organizational
capability and uncertainty in
platform standardization, the leveraging
of new technologies like automation
and optimization helped many energy
providers transform their outdated business
practices.
Historically, there has been a hesitancy
to adopting open-source software due
to vulnerabilities, bad actors, and hacking
scenarios; decision-makers often think
about a Colonial Pipeline hacking 2.0.
In reality, that couldn't be further from
the truth-open-source software is not
much different from proprietary software
when it comes to security. While it's true
that open-source code is free and can be
distributed (without commercial royalty)
or modified, it does not imply that it is
somehow inferior to proprietary software
or somehow suspect for malicious
code. Utility providers, power plants, and
transmission and distribution systems
can develop algorithmic code based on
secure open-source software.
In the power generation and utilities
industry, numerous initiatives, both in
14
1. As energy providers move away from
legacy systems to open-source software,
they pass on additional benefits to end-users,
like intuitive interfaces and optimization. Courtesy:
EPAM Systems
the public and private sector, are advancing.
The history of the electric utility industry
was single-directional. In other
words, burn coal to produce electrons;
send those electrons down a transmission
network; and then put it through a
transformer, step that down to a distribution
network, and on to the customer.
Today, it's much more complicated with
the advent of renewable energy; there
is a new need for powerline carriers to
function and provide bi-directional communications
(Figure 1).
Rebuilding the grid to meet the challenges
of today's power network, and
providing a two-way system of communications,
comes with several complex
problems. Many of these can
be addressed and fixed securely by
open-source code. Not only does open
source facilitate interoperability of the
grid-such as charging stations and battery
storage, to simply meet demand
with generation supply as well as allocated
resources that have distributed
supply-it also can continually optimize
those systems.
Many top contributors on the Open
Source Contributor Index routinely deliver
leading-edge technologies and
strategies to the world's premier energy
utilities, oil and gas, and oilfield services
companies. These contributors positioned
themselves as a services vendor
using an open-source model they feel
can, and should be, replicated by others
in the industry. Power and utility providers
are using open source in a range of
areas, including:
■ Design Optimization. Capital, operations
and maintenance, as well as construction
work.
■ Energy Management. Flow the energy
from creation to consumption.
■ Asset Management. The entire asset
management lifecycle, from installation
to retire.
■ Work Management. The entire work
management lifecycle, including preventive
work, construction work,
emergency work, etc.
■ Smart Meter and/or Smart Grid Analytics.
Energy grid moderation and
optimization using data and advanced
analytics.
2. Open-source software helps the power and utility industry solve many of the complicated
problems associated with renewable energy, such as rebuilding the grid to provide bi-directional
communications. Courtesy: EPAM Systems
www.powermag.com
POWER | December 2021
http://www.powermag.com

POWER December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of POWER December 2021

POWER December 2021 - Cover1
POWER December 2021 - Cover2
POWER December 2021 - 1
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POWER December 2021 - SCover1
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