Smart insights on open-source solutions

Aug. 6, 2021
"Security through obscurity worked, until it didn't."
We recently connected with Shuli Goodman, Ph.D. to discuss open-source solutions during the webinar “Meeting Energy Industry Challenges with Open-Source Solutions." Here we chat with the executive director with LF Energy, a Linux Foundation project,about shifting security in the energy space and the ways open-source solutions are empowering new wins. Take a look… 

Smart Industry: How is security becoming a growing priority/challenge for the energy space and what are we doing about these snowballing threats? 

Shuli: We have transformed our material supply chains, which could be secured through physical locks and keys, into digital supply chains which are both infinitely more flexible and complex. Security is not a one-and-done sort of thing. There are no walls and vaults to put our digital stuff into that can enable an asset or a transaction to be useful in a distributed, interoperable system of systems. Rather, security is something that is a deliberate process and a very human activity that starts with design and continues—like a supply-chain—across a lifecycle into retirement. Security through obscurity worked, until it didn't. 


What is snowballing is that we are talking about the rapid acceleration of onboarding billions of devices that are all connected. Cars, PVs, heat-pumps, hydro, wind, appliances, buildings, infrastructure, etc. will be choreographed to compose a modern energy network. We cannot afford the brute force of electrons generated by fossil-fuel where all energy was centrally controlled as an analogue unidirectional system. We need to be pushing intelligence out to the edge in order to arbitrage supply and demand in a low-inertia grid composed of renewable assets. That's going to release a tsunami of data and a crisis around identity and the management of who/what is allowed to know, do what, and connect to the system of systems and mesh networks.


Smart Industry: What most excites you about capabilities with open-source solutions? 

Shuli: In the end, it will be a far more complex and elegant network of energy systems, but at its foundation we have to address security and how we build, manage, and govern digital systems. Open source is uniquely positioned to enable this. In fact, there really is no other way; that will become increasingly clear as we manage the interconnections of sector coupling and the boundaries between load and resource.


Smart Industry: What is unique about digital transformation in the energy sector? What special opportunities exist in this space? 

Shuli: We have barely begun. It would be like going back in a time machine to 1996 and asking what is most exciting or unique about the internet? We had ideas, but the true breadth and depth of how our world would transform really took a decade or two to begin to come into focus. We are swapping out the engine of prosperity while flying the plane and hoping we won't crash. There is no "Plan B". No other sector is so completely intertwined with our way of life in the west in 2021, nor with how we organize ourselves, particularly at the heart of our geopolitical systems. What comes next is extraordinary.


What I find most remarkable is that we can apply consciousness to power systems and design for the next 3,000 years. We know so much more about how the world works in terms of natural systems than we did in the mid-1800s. But, we have run out of runway. There is no more kicking the externalities from fossil-fuel down the road.

Want more with Shuli? Click here to join the webinar on demand.