Open source is part of our digital strategy. Our GitHub profile has numerous repositories, where lots of high-quality code is available for free, with permissive licenses.

How did it come to this, and what does this mean for you? Here, we discuss these questions.

Why do you open source your technology?

We believe in collective, open and sustainable progress as the fitting answer to our current sustainability & governance challenges. Open-source software has created an unbelievable amount of value in the last decades, and we personally have been using it in our private and professional lives.

We also believe that in the decentralized energy system which is developing now, the open-source innovation is far from being as strong as it needs to be (e.g. when compared to web development). This is tech needed across the whole world, by many different actors. We want to contribute to more open source in energy tech. And of course, while there are only a few others, it serves as a USP for us.

Open source creates value, and it also helps to spread innovation at a faster rate. That is precisely what we need to fight climate change effectively.

Are you for-profit? If so, how do you make money?

Yes, we are a for-profit company.

Our revenue comes from hosting the software we make, so we are a SaaS (software-as-a-service) company. By now, there are several open-soure SaaS unicorns out there, for instance Gitlab and Odoo.

Furthermore, customization and support are also revenue streams. The plan is for us to reduce this share as the SaaS subscription part dominates. As we have well-documented open-source software, customization and support can also be taken over by clients or their third-party developers.

Why is this good for me?

Open-source software has several advantages for the user:

  • No lock-in effect: In the event that we stop working for you for any reason, you can go on without us. The code is available, there is no restrictive license attached (we use Apache 2.0) and we strive for excellent documentation.
  • Transparency: Instead of relying on somebody’s software & algorithms behind closed walls, you can see under the hood, or ask someone skilled in software to do so.
  • Community: If there are other users, their efforts might benefit you. For example if another user finds a bug, and it gets fixed (by us or by them), you will benefit from this with no effort of your own.

If we co-create an energy flexibility service, does all code need to become open source?

No.

It all depends on the nature of our relationship. If you fund the development, you will have a say.

FlexMeasures, as the basic middleware, is open and will remain so. FlexMeasures plugins, which constitute a service and/or data integration, can be free or not. If they are, the above benefits apply, also to you.