Sony partners LF Energy on open-source microgrid

  • February 17, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

California-based LF Energy is working with Sony Computer Science Laboratories to launch an open-source microgrid project. The Hyphae web services aim to automate peer-to-peer renewable energy distribution.

LF Energy is a Linux Foundation nonprofit seeking to accelerate the energy transition of the world’s grids and transportation systems through open source. Its newest member is Sony CSL. Together, they have announced Hyphae, a microgrid initiative to automate the peer-to-peer distribution of renewable energy.

With energy resources and infrastructure increasingly challenged to meet the coming impacts of climate change and natural disaster, Hyphae aims to make microgrids more resilient. It will do so by transitioning Sony CSL’s existing software, Autonomous Power Interchange System (Apis), which automatically and efficiently distributes locally produced renewable energy over a DC grid, to work with AC grids.

With resilient, peer-to-peer microgrid energy trading, even the most remote communities will be able to store and distribute energy autonomously without connecting to large-scale power stations or electrical distribution networks.

“Sony CSL is a subsidiary of one of the world’s premier companies and, by launching Hyphae with us, they are making a profound statement about their intention to collaborate and lead to solve the world’s most complicated problem – decarbonisation,” said Shuli Goodman, executive director of LF Energy. “Working with Sony CSL will help us spur energy transformation in developed countries, as well as bring electrification to energy-poor corners of the planet.”

As the world races to develop and build microgrids that are resilient and flexible, an open-source, automated microgrid controller and peer-to-peer trading platform such as Hyphae should allow for faster innovation while decreasing costs for everyone. Partnering with Sony CSL brings LF Energy closer to its goal of building the first 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.

“By working with LF Energy, we see a path towards an interoperable, cloud-native, configurable microgrid that will revolutionise the world’s relationship with networking energy,” said Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Japan-based Sony CSL. “We share the sense of urgency to act on climate issues, which is why we decided to turn a part of our decade-long research into open source, and to work with LF Energy. This is a call to action for the greatest companies in the world to work together to revolutionise the global energy landscape, including residential and industrial energy systems, power systems, and the green electrification of transportation.”

LF Energy is looking to collaborate with hardware partners to ensure they create an entirely interoperable system.

LF Energy has a plan to solve climate change problems through open frameworks, reference architectures and a support ecosystem of complementary projects. Members include Alliander, Energinet, Tennet, Elering, IBM, NREL, Recurve, RTE, Stanford University, OSISoft, Unicorn, Wind River, Cloud Bees, Alan Turing Institute and Pecan Street.