National Instruments, LocalGrid, and Toronto Hydro pilot the software-defined, peer-to-peer distributed grid architecture.
>” […] Because each CompactRIO endpoint is inherently flexible, LocalGrid can provide “protocol conversion which we can update dynamically over the air, analytics that we can update to the system, and run multiple applications on the same device,” he said. This is similar in intent to the kind of field-distributed computing capability that Silver Spring Network’s new SilverLink Sensor Network platform and Cisco’s new IOx platform are opening up to partners, but it’s pretty far ahead of the capabilities of the vast majority of today’s grid edge devices.
In fact, in terms of technology that allows interoperability without a lot of expensive and complex pre-integration work, “The existing players do not have solutions that will do this job,” Leigh said. “They’re not fast enough, they’re not open enough, or they don’t have solutions that are cost-effective enough in the distribution space.”
So far, LocalGrid has connected four sites with a combination of solar PV and wind turbine inverters and metering hardware, and is now in the midst of its second phase of developing custom algorithms for tasks such as detecting faults and forecasting solar and wind generation and loads on distribution circuits, Leigh said. These aren’t necessarily huge challenges for Toronto Hydro’s existing IT infrastructure at pilot scale, “But if we were to multiply that across the network, it’s just not feasible to get all that data to be analyzed into a back-end system,” he said.
As for how to expand LocalGrid’s software capabilities to a broader set of grid endpoints, Leigh cited Cisco’s IOx-enabled grid routers as potential future partners. Other big grid vendors like General Electric, ABB and Siemens “are at different stages starting to open up their systems,” he said. “The question that still has to be worked out is how much third-party development can take place on their new systems.”
That’s the same question that Duke has been asking the grid vendor community, via its plans to open its source code and hardware adapter reference designs to the public. The past half-decade has seen open-source grid systems emerge from simulation software and data management tools to a few real-world grid applications, albeit still in the experimental stage. Perhaps the next half-decade will see the open grid edge platform attain real-world status.”<