Faraday at the LF Energy Summit

As part of the inaugural LF Energy Summit earlier this week, Faraday Grid connected with distinguished open source developers and power systems professionals to discuss the innovation needed to enable the energy transition.

The event was organised as part of an energy-focused initiative of The Linux Foundation, a global enabler of open-source ecosystems. Recognising that the energy system is at the centre of societal progress, the LF Energy Summit urged leaders of multiple disciplines to unite in solving the critical obstacles in the way of a prosperous energy future.

Quoting Linus Torvalds in his speech, Faraday Grid Founder and CEO Andrew Scobie pointed out the distorted perspective characterising most conversations around energy:

“I am not a visionary. I'm an engineer. I'm happy with the people who are wandering around looking at the stars but I am looking at the ground and I want to fix the pothole before I fall in.”

Indeed, ambitious renewable energy and electric vehicle targets dominate the energy discourse, yet these eager predictions often fail to address how the system will cope with the changes to come.

The current energy system needs a revolution, and it needs it now to continue to progress the welfare of our society. This is Faraday’s vision, which had great synergy with LF Energy, leaving no ambiguity around why modernization is critical.

Discussing the way forward, Andrew Scobie described the grid of the future: a decentralised system allowing permissionless innovation, an enabling platform for a plethora of technologies. The Faraday Grid aims to empower a revolution to the energy system similar to that of the internet for telecommunications.

Andrew invited the open source community to join Faraday is making this a reality. This is closer than ever as the first Faraday Grid will go live in the London network in spring 2019. Read Andrew’s full speech below. 

Globally, electricity systems are failing

Today’s great economic and environmental challenges cannot possibly be resolved with the 19th century electricity architecture

Almost everyone agrees a new way forward needs to be found

Linux and the Linux Foundation

I am reminded of the following quote from a very wise man:

 “I am not a visionary. I'm an engineer. I'm happy with the people who are wandering around looking at the stars but I am looking at the ground and I want to fix the pothole before I fall in.”

That man was Linus Torvalds, and I am honoured to be invited to speak here, today, at the Linux Foundation’s Energy Summit in my adopted home of Edinburgh. 

Torvalds’ original premise of sustainable open source ecosystems has been taken forward so diligently by the Linux Foundation, encouraging both creativity and fostering innovation. 

Faraday welcomes the Linux Foundation’s latest push into the energy sector, where new thinking is desperately needed.

Just as Linus pointed out – we have many leaders looking around at stars and setting ambitious, 100% clean energy targets in our lifetimes.  Faraday Grid exists to fix the potholes, the many deep potholes, on the road to this ambition.

Before I tell you more about where we are going with Faraday Grid and future energy systems, it is important to understand where we have come from.

History of the Grid – Legacy Grid

The biggest and most sophisticated machine in human history didn’t appear out of nowhere

The Grid unlocked the greatest economic gains in human history by allowing us to empower our technology. Lifting billions from premodernity’s grinding poverty

The Grid: the great engineering triumph of the twentieth century is now turning out to be a poor fit for our future

The hub and spoke grid is a rigid, passive, one way delivery system, that must prioritise system stability before all else

Centrally controlled, it is balanced volumetrically as it attempts to maintain stability and is simply unable to prioritize cost to consumers of energy

Historically electrons and inertia were provided as a bundle, by large principally coal fired generators at the centre of the system

However, our values for an energy system have changed.  Unfortunately, the grid has not

And yet the grid remains the indispensable central nervous system of both our economic and social order

The Challenge

The Legacy Grid delivered on its design scope, meeting the values and enabling the hopes and dreams of 19th century citizens.

Now, the Legacy Grid is being asked to handle variable renewable energy, transport electrons and to balance supply in demand in a decentralised world that is increasingly and inherently unpredictable

All while remaining rigid, passive and fragile

But the Grid was only intended to be transportation for an energy system with huge spinning generators at its centre providing the essential inertia that stabilised that system

In pursuit of our values and ambitions we have crammed the grid full of volatile renewables, an increasingly unpredictable demand, while removing the stabilising central generators.

In consequence, we are increasingly spending more on balancing costs and expensive Band-Aids that only address symptoms - we are constantly chasing our tail

Right now, we are at an historic junction point. The decisions we make about the future of energy could lock us into a path for centuries to come

The Faraday Grid

In 2004, there were 80 points of energy generation in the UK.  Today, there are 1,000,000.  A centralised rigid system simply cannot manage this – it would be like having one control room for the entire internet.

What’s required is an open and de-centralised energy platform to enable millions of users to connect.  Such a concept should sound entirely familiar to the Linux community.

Allow me to explain what Faraday is doing to the world’s energy system, in the same fashion as Torvalds did the world of operation and information systems.

Today, most technical advances in energy remain focused on addressing symptoms

In trying to create the grid of the future we can look to the greatest machine of the 20th century - the Internet

We have an opportunity to reimagine the grid according to modern values and make it future proof. Not simply download and update the Legacy Grid.

The Grid of the Future cannot continue to suffer from central command and control problems. It will reduce future choices

Imagine instead the Grid as a platform for Smart Cities, EVs, domestic prosumers competing as suppliers of energy. Competing so well they don’t need to be subsidised

The Internet of Energy - decentralised control and permissionless innovation. And open-source, something that is impossible under today’s regulated and utility centric system.

The internet creates an evolving space for innovation, cheaper prices and greater security

The Faraday Grid is the internet of energy

A system of decentralised control that puts the grid at the centre of our energy system for the first time

Built on Faraday Exchangers, they provide the inertia that allows it to be agnostic to the nature of supply and demand

Dynamically balancing power flow, voltage, power factor, and phase, it removes all harmonics

A plug and play device it drops in to the location occupied by the Legacy Grid’s transformers, just as we dropped routers in to create the internet without disturbing the telephone system

As we demonstrated at our 2017 launch here in Edinburgh, we can double the amount of renewables while reducing the cost of energy to consumers

The Faraday Grid comes preloaded with Emergent

Emergent is a transactive grid protocol that will enable consumers, utilities, aggregators, disruptors, and generators to buy and sell energy at the lowest marginal price

This Emergent Faraday community of innovators and disruptors shares the same ecosystem as LF Energy, and we should find ways to activate this partnership.

Conclusion

Linus Torvalds also once said: “I’d argue that everybody wants to do something that matters.

Our aim at Faraday is Sustainable Prosperity for Everyone.  And that is truly something that matters.

Our future doesn’t need to be more fragile, expensive and vulnerable

We can have a low carbon future of greater prosperity and human choice

This isn’t a vision, it is a reality that Faraday Grid are taking forward with our partners including global utilities, renewable generators, storage providers, disruptors and aggregators around the world

We would welcome you and the Linux community on that journey

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