International News

The Global Design Challenge

A challenge to inventors, designers and engineers everywhere:

Design a virtually universal open platform for local energy hubs


Global Design Challenge

Develop the best open - scalable - compliant - interoperable - local

Transactive energy platform


  The Global Design Challenge is intended to facilitate the resolution of a small number of simple, inexpensive and easily applied design standards that will allow for easy integration of the full range of Distributed Energy Resources with micro-grids, distributors and system operators. It's an open source collaborative project designed to encourage creative thinking, prompt conversation, and shine a spotlight on the most promising ideas coming from individual contributors and companies at the leading edge of power innovation.


Let your energy innovation shine! This is your chance to become a recognized contributor to the world-wide Distributed Energy Resources transformation as it is ignited for lift-off.


Everyone with an interest in the future shape of the power system is invited to share and potentially showcase their designs for the most dependable, efficient and inclusive open access, open source distributed energy integration platform.


Building on extensive work already underway in many parts of the world, the Global Design Challenge is intended to highlight the most promising and inventive options for resolving common standards of communication between Distributed Energy Resources, power distributors and grid operators. Proposed systems must be widely applicable, suitable for use by LDCs and micro-grids, and comply with all applicable legal and technical requirements.[1]


The key purpose of the Global Design Challenge is to facilitate the resolution of a small number of simple, inexpensive and easily applied design standards that will allow for easy integration of the full range of DERs with micro-grids, distributors and system operators, while meeting all applicable standards for safety, security and open competitive markets. Proposals will be judged on their ability to integrate with consumer friendly apps, digital payment systems, and innovative business models.


The Global Design Challenge is an open source collaborative project designed to encourage creative thinking, prompt conversation, and shine a spotlight on the most promising ideas coming from individual contributors and companies at the leading edge of power innovation, including local energy hubs, micro-grids and transactive energy.


Winners will be announced on November 12, 2018 at the Canadian Power Conference Banquet dinner in six or more categories including:

- The most innovative overall design concept

- The most economical implementation framework

- The system that most easily accommodates the integration of new DERs

- The best Blockchain integration

- The best storage integration

- Ability to accommodate a full range of jurisdiction-specific regulatory requirements

- Consumer-friendliness.



To submit a proposal, follow these Three easy steps:


1. Review the terms of the Global Design Challenge (below and on our website).

2. Submit your preliminary idea to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by July 1 and participate in the online discussions before and after.

3. Attend or watch the awards on November 12 and help to share the results.


Contestant contributions will be assessed by a Selection Committee composed of recognized industry experts who will judge proposals, decide on the winning submissions, and comment on the most brilliant ideas.



* Let your initiative shine – and be recognized in professional energy forums for doing so! *






Background information:




Terms and details of The Global Design Challenge for Local Energy Platforms


Invitations will go out to leading corporate players, students, industry, government, research organizations, leading academics, and on social media in early 2018.


Successful applicants who meet the criteria will have their proposals published on the APPrO website and anyone who receives one of the awards will be featured in the APPrO magazine, on the APPrO website, and at the APPrO 2018 conference.  Successful applicants may be invited to make a live presentation at the APPrO conference.


The 2018 competition will be Round 1. The process of comparing applications during round 1 will yield learnings that will allow the organizing committee to refine the terms of the competition for Round 2 in subsequent years.



Submission Schedule


All submissions must be filed in their final form with APPrO by September 15, 2018 according to the requirements below, to allow time for the judges to make comparisons.


July 1 2018: Initial submission deadline

- Applicants must submit a 2 page proposal highlighting basic objectives, expectations and methods

- Judges may pose questions and make suggestions to the applicants.


September 15, 2018: Final submission deadline

- Applicants must submit a full proposal suitable for public release, along with10 slide summary PowerPoint deck

- Judges may pose questions and make suggestions to the applicants, potentially leading to “invited changes” in the submissions. Revised proposals with invited changes must be submitted by October 15.


November 1: Communication with finalists

- This stage is designed in part to determine finalists’ ability to be present at the award ceremony

- Discussion with selected finalists about potentially presentations at the conference, in front of the audience and to a panel of judges who will ask questions (Dragon's Den style).



Eligibility criteria


Eligible proposals must:

a) Offer an open source solution for managing distributed energy resources in a local energy hub

b) Proposed systems must be widely applicable, suitable for use by LDCs and micro-grids, and comply with all applicable legal and technical requirements.[2]

c) Demonstrate a new innovation that is not yet widely deployed, recognizing that large parts of proposals submitted may contain components that are part of existing products, projects or previous implementations.



Permission to distribute your proposals and protection of authorial claims


As a basic condition of participation in the Global Design Challenge, all contributors must agree to allow APPrO to share and redistribute their submissions publicly.


In order to protect contributors’ ability to substantiate claims of authorship, all initial submissions should be cc’d to the original contributor at the same time they are sent to APPrO, along with a request for APPrO to acknowledge receipt and reply with a copy of the claimed work in an “original submission acknowledgement.” APPrO will not verify that the content of a submission is entirely original or that it is exclusively the work of the claimed author. However, APPrO will retain a record of all valid submissions, consistent with the content of its “Original submission acknowledgement” following a procedure that can be used to substantiate authorship. Original submissions must be 10 MB or less and submitted by email with the words “GDC submission acknowledgement request” in the subject line. Once APPrO has verified the relevance of such submissions it will forward a copy of the original submission to the original email address provided, in an “Original submission acknowledgement” message. This will allow the contributor to substantiate and protect claims of authorship.


APPrO expects that this project will use various forms of the GNU General Public License extensively. It should be noted that a significant component of the open source activity underway with the IEEE and others is developing appropriate forms of licensing for open source projects. The IEEE plans to offer a CLA or Contributors Licensing Agreement to supplement software and hardware licenses as a means of ensuring that any code that’s contributed to an open source project is signed off on by the contributor or its company. This is intended to ensure that everyone contributing content has the authority to do so, and everyone has the right to use it freely in an open source framework.



Evaluation criteria


Judges will be permitted to use wide discretion but will be asked to judge submissions on the following criteria:

- Ease of application

- Range of circumstances in which the solution is applicable

- Range of issues that can be addressed by the solution

- The ease with which add-ons from new contributors can be integrated

- Anticipated cost of deployment

- Compatibility with related software for managing DERs and interacting with the wholesale grid.



Publication of short listed proposals

All proposals short listed will be acknowledged publicly and have key elements of their submission published on the APPrO website as appropriate.



Winning submissions will be announced at the APPrO 2018 conference on November 12, 2018. Winners will be entitled to public acknowledgement and a certificate verifying their recognition by the Selection Committee. Other prizes to be determined.


Marketing and social media

APPrO will highlight the process and of course the winners using APPrO media, earned media, and social media.


Background information

Work on this field is underway all over the world and agencies like the IEEE, the IDEA and many others are assembling databases of resources. APPrO has published some background papers and collected relevant resources, many of which are summarized in the Open Power Platforms Resource Centre at this location:





Location of this page:

April 15, 2018


[1] For details, see the program’s terms and eligibility criteria.

[2] Applicants will need to specify one or more jurisdictions as their baseline design standard for compliance. It is recommended but not essential that Ontario requirements be addressed.

Open Power Platforms Online Resource Centre

Open power platforms 


Open Power Platforms Online Resource Centre


Welcome to the Online Resource Centre for the Open Power Platforms Project. Everyone is welcome to use the resources below to contribute to the process of developing one or more fully functional open technology platforms for distributed energy resources (DERs).


This page is a prototype of an evolving project, expected to grow and take on a life of its own as increasing numbers of participants contribute to the design and content.



What can open power platforms do?


The energy system is changing rapidly. No one knows what its ultimate shape will be, but there is ample evidence to suggest that Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) including distributed generation, demand response, storage, and smart energy controllers of various sorts will play a greater role as time goes on. As these new resources are created and added to the system, the grid is expected to evolve more organically in the future, much like the internet does today.


As a result, open power platforms are expected to serve as flexible and high functioning hubs for safely integrating a plethora of energy resources into local networks. As micro-grids, local distribution companies and the Internet of Things evolve, it is becoming increasingly important to have reliable local hubs that can be used to optimize energy flows, facilitate information sharing, and encourage ongoing innovation. High performance control centres are needed because the electric grid is a fully integrated network requiring instantaneous real-time co-ordination and protection. However, to the extent these control centres can be decentralized themselves, while still meeting the exacting requirements for safety, security, protection, control and power quality, the vitality inherent in facilitating widespread customer participation can be leveraged to create efficiencies that benefit all users of the grid, and innovations that continually improve the system for the benefit of society as a whole.


DERs can introduce physical risks and security risks if they are not properly integrated into the existing system. In many jurisdictions the rapid growth of DERs is creating challenges for LDCs (Local Distribution Companies). The IEEE and others are developing standards for LDCs who anticipate having high penetration levels of DERs. A significant component of the work in developing open power platforms will inevitably include systems to accommodate the increasing needs for managing the physical and cybersecurity impacts of DER penetration.



Big Benefits


Some of the key benefits of developing and disseminating open power platforms include the following:

* Facilitation of economic transactions between participants of all types connected to the grid

* Assisting with physical optimization of local power infrastructure

* Enabling cost savings resulting from convergence on common standards for open technology

* Formalization of user rights for access to grid services, where they aren’t fully developed and formalized already

* Alleviating business obstacles related to absence of standardization, for project developers and others

* Enhancing the basis on which consumers are asked to place their trust in complex multi-party systems

* Reconciliation of grid principles with internet principles



Open technology, open access and open source


A good example of open technology is the common electric power plug and receptacle. Everyone uses it, no one has to worry about who owns the design rights to it, and everyone benefits from having a common standard which they can use to connect equipment together and build complex networks. Open source software is similar, and in fact underlies much of what’s on the internet today. Although millions of people have contributed to it and helped build it into what it is today, the actual code underlying major software like the Android Operating System, HTML, PHP websites, and Wikipedia is open and freely available to anyone. No one owns the code, and everyone can contribute to making it better using mass collaboration techniques that have proven to be highly effective. Proprietary software applications can be built for use on open source platforms. In fact, some of the most secure applications available today are proprietary software built on time tested open source platforms.


A 2017 paper by the IEEE Standards Association says, “Next generation infrastructures and vertical industry and consumer deployments are expected to be dependent upon open source, across all market sectors.” It goes on to say that “Open Source provided the potential for expanded integration of previously discrete technology eco-systems (e.g. 5G, IoT, Analytics, Big Data, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Reality, Vertical platforms: Smart Energy, Smart Cities, Automotive, etc.). Industry feedback indicated open source solutions could provide improved time to market solutions and potentially provide economic benefits to both suppliers and consumers. Research indicated … open source community initiations were expanding, where open source was being considered more frequently as an option to address industry requirements.”


CISCO notes that “Currently there are over 360 proprietary communication protocols used in the electrical system, making it impossible for different systems to communicate with one another. To enable this communication, all of those elements must converge on an open platform ....” (See the URL for CISCO’s smart grid presentation below for more information on this.)


For more information on open source technology, the following resources may be helpful:

“What Is Open Source, and Why Is IEEE Involved?” Q&A with Gary Stuebing, IEEE Corporate Advisory Group Open Source Ad Hoc, Chair


Wikipedia explains open source software in this article:


Open technology uses the same principles as open source software, but applies them more generally. For more information see:



An open library of resources for everyone


Please see below for links to discussion papers, organizations, events and various initiatives related to open power platforms. To add more resources, just let us know what they are and where they are. Follow these three easy steps:

1. Post articles online using your preferred system, or capture content online you think is relevant to the open energy platform project

2. Write a one line title describing the resource, and a one line explanation of why it’s interesting

3. Send the information (Title, explanation and URL) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the words “open power platform contribution” in the subject line.




Discussion papers


Learn more about the field. Click on any of the links below to access discussion papers


What the power grid can learn from the internet and vice versa,” LinkedIn posting and magazine article, January 8, 2018


Interview with Lawrence Orsini, the CEO of LO3, a key driver of the Brooklyn Microgrid, explaining, among other things, why open source development is part of their strategy, January 17, 2018. He says: “The timing will be around the network release, which will be open source. Once the network is open source, you’ll be able to start building on it. That’s when we expect people to really get engaged – probably in Q3 or Q4 of this year.”


Imagine the wickedly smart new energy ventures of the future,” LinkedIn, April 2017


Article explaining why the term DERMS (Distributed Energy Resource Management System) may be losing its usefulness: DERMS: A Term Gone Too Far?


Utilities prepare for future of change” IPPSO FACTO, June 2014


Growing the open, intelligent edge,”Article on the growth of open source standards for automated buildings.


An Open Source Electric Grid,” article by Mike Skirzynksi, posted on January 9, 2018.


Leading Ontario privacy expert endorses open source system for consumer data protection:

Privacy controls must be placed back into the hands of the individual

Ann Cavoukian, March 27, 2018


IEEE working to resolve the practical specifics of Transactive Energy,” an overview of current IEEE work on open source power systems, published April 9, 2018.



Links to related resources


IEEE-SA Standards Board


IEEE Open Source activity:


GE Reports related to transactive energy, posted on the GE Canada website, such as this one:


Cisco video on the Smart Grid:


Open Power System Data, a free and open data platform dedicated to electricity system researchers.


The Exergy Foundation


Energy Unlocked


Electric Markets Research Foundation




The Global Design Challenge


Anyone with an interest in the future shape of the power system is invited to prepare submissions on how to design the most dependable, efficient and inclusive open access open source distributed energy integration platform. It should be suitable for use by LDCs and micro-grids, and meet all applicable legal and technical requirements.


Watch this space for more information as active players bring forward new plans and proposals including a global design challenge.




For more information, watch this page, visit the links above and send inquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Open Power Platforms Online Resource Centre


Note: This web page is a prototype. It is a preliminary model for a future resource centre, still under development. All content on this page should be considered to be in draft form.



APPrO, the Association of Power Producers of Ontario
25 Adelaide St. East, Suite 1602, Toronto, Ontario M5C 3A1
tel. 416-322-6549 fax 416-481-5785


Billionaire investors fund to invest in energy storage

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment fund whose board of directors has a total personal wealth of $170 billion, is targeting energy storage, among other things, as a way to combat climate change by unleashing the potential of intermittent renewable energy sources.

Continue Reading

NREL studying wide-scale electrification

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced January 8 that it is spearheading the Electrification Futures Study, a research collaboration to explore the impacts of widespread electrification in all U.S. economic sectors—commercial and residential buildings, transportation, and industry.

Continue Reading

Web App technology is powered by Unlimited Exposure Online