In collaboration with SSEN & SGS


This project involved a trial of potential interfaces and end point devices for DERMs applications. The trial undertaken in this project investigated the OpenADR communication protocol and OpenFMB framework on specific devices interfacing to an example DERMS platform.

The trial used publicly available open source implementations and demonstrated that, while these implementations are maturing, they are suitable for such interfaces. Communication tests demonstrated end-to-end communication across systems and devices and gathered metrics that can be used to inform the specification of the required communication infrastructure to exploit the chosen protocols and further testing to that end. These communication tests indicated that OpenADR and the chosen implementation of OpenFMB could be used over the communications technologies commonly used by distribution network operators today.

For end point devices, the tests demonstrated the use of containerisation for running functions and integration adapters and illustrated the likely hardware requirements for end-point devices in general.


The main outcome of this project is a report on the findings from end node device testing. This report highlights the following key learnings from this project:

For OpenADR and OpenFMB, for the parts of the framework tested the test results show no major impediments to using any of the communication media/technologies in use today.

Each of the frameworks tested, benefit from a standardized API and build in cyber security. The testing showed that the frameworks would be able to cope with standard DSO operations within a range of typical internal network deployments.

The project has highlighted a number of requirements for end-point devices and makes some recommendations on specifications (specifically employing zero trust architecture including a trusted boot).

For interfaces at scale, standardization of APIs and, importantly their authentication mechanism is critical. Learning in this report details these requirements and extends into additional testing which would be required for large scale deployment.



The project has pushed forward the application of DSO technical interfaces in relation to safe and secure communication with customers’ end point devices, such as small generation connections, to enable more flexible connections and flexibility services at a smaller scale and a lower cost.

The findings from this project have helped advance our understanding of how to implement DSO technical interfaces. The learning from this project will further the development of secure and scalable communication methods with customers’ end point devices to facilitate, and lower the cost of, participation in flexibility markets.

Matthew Hamilton, Innovation Project Manager SSEN

What’s next?

The next questions in this area of research are around the following topics:

Scaling: we’ve tested for a number of OpenADR and OpenFMB is this project; the next phase is for a large number of nodes (e.g. thousands of nodes). This investigation would include development of aggregation nodes and the DERMS system integrating with these nodes in order to achieve the desired testing of scalability (and associated resilience) techniques for implementation.

Hardware Requirements: The OpenFMB and OpenADR nodes are programmed on pre-selected edge platforms. The next stage would aim to compare different hardware architectures for the end nodes to obtain a better understanding of the limitations

Computational Resources: The OpenFMB end-devices used a Java base, this allows for a high degree of portability between various systems and operating systems, however, this comes at the expense of requiring additional system resources. The next stage in this area would be to investigate modifying the system to employ a lighter weight programming language and potentially reduce the required system resources. This in turn would reduce the cost of deploying DER devices

Security Architecture: This next phase would involve employing a zero-trust architecture, including a trusted boot, would provide the required security for end-devices. This architecture is designed to provide a secure base for running software on top, using modules to enable secure boot and hardware signing of each boot stage. This could be extended by using certificate pinning, and a shared pre-loaded key in a hardware security module. Investigating this project option would ensure that devices can only reach out to a particular DERMS instance.

These research questions are being developed through a number of other projects that are now live, specifically in the following:

CLUE – The project aims to implement a web of cell architecture for DER management and control. A key challenge in the project was to create an architecture that would meet the cybersecurity requirements of the different parties.

PNDC projects (TCS-009 & 010) – developing OpenFMB adaptor and hosting OpenFMB and OPC-UA cloudlets investigated along with a comparison between MQTT and SparkPlug B messaging protocols to improve the overall latency and bandwidth requirements for the energy utilities.

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