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Open-Source Collaboration In The Energy Sector: A Force For Good


Guest: Jean-Michel Glachant (LinkedIn)
Organization: LF Energy (LinkedIn, Twitter)

Climate change is a real emergency that needs immediate action. The energy sector is at the center of this change because energy makes everything else run. Utilities produce and distribute energy, so they can be mobilized to immediately reduce the impact on the environment.

In this episode of TFiR: State of Energy, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Jean-Michel Glachant, Director of the Florence School of Regulation, to talk about the recent LF Energy Report as well as his insights into where the energy sector is headed.

Key highlights of this video interview:

  • Glachant sees 3 factors of change in the energy sector: digitalization, decentralization, and the growth of renewables.
  • The digitalization, particularly the electricity utility, is a major societal and industrial change. This involves digitalizing the entire lifecycle: generation, transmission, distribution, and the consumption of energy.
  • The decentralization of the industry enables new ways of generating energy and ultimately gives people options. Previously, only big utility companies with huge assets of at least 4-5 billion euros could invest in energy. With the introduction of solar PV, for example, one can invest 10 euros in a small bag that can charge a phone or a laptop.
  • People can invest directly in renewables because it is cheaper. In areas like Europe where it is pushed by government and regulatory decisions, it is literally exploding. By 2030, 70% of all electricity in Europe will come from renewables.
  • These 3 factors will bring challenges to companies. They will have to be smarter, faster, and agile. It requires looking at new ways of understanding the world and the customers. This reactiveness can be facilitated by using new software or new ways of conceiving software.
  • Glachant wrote the foreword to the recent Linux Foundation Energy report entitled Paving the Way to Battle Climate Change. It reiterates the fact that climate change is an emergency for humanity. It is challenging to do it fast and it is extremely costly if one does it alone. The report details the successful open-source collaboration of Alliander and RTE to handle the growth of renewables at the speed and scale required by their consumers.
  • The report also illustrates that it costs very little to enter the world of open source. It takes step by step to understand how it benefits the organization, and how the organization can trust the new way of working. Alliander and RTE were pioneers in this. They were very reluctant at the beginning because of the biases of their organizations. They did not believe that it can be useful to collaborate to innovate, but when they did, the results proved significantly beneficial for both.

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