Intro - Phloem

Like the system in plants the project is named after, phloem will help control the transfer and storage of energy. As our grid becomes more decentralised, with more people capable of producing and storing energy we need a decentralised way of managing it.

Building a protocol and hardware that form a decentralised system that is secure, user friendly and can interact well with the grid is tall order. But we have to start somewhere.

To start with I’m going to be trying to talk to people using microgrids currently, NGOs, scientists etc, about their use cases and needs. I’ll also be talking to decentralised protocol developers to get insight into developing the right protocol.

Ideally I would use the most suitable protocol to build some prototypes to do user testing with.

About me: Currently employed as a site reliability engineer, I have good insight into protocols and hardware and also a strong belief in user centred design. I also enjoy hanging out on ssb.


Hi @eb4890 and welcome. Are you documenting your work somewhere? Is this at the idea stage, or further along?

Hi @Hugi, thanks for the welcome.

Very much the idea stage. I plan to create a dat website at some point soonish.

Interesting topic :slight_smile: I remember I once put together an idea collection / design outline for a “village grid” system for Nepal. Not exactly your usecase of things connected to the national grid, as I don’t believe in anything beyond local P2P grids. It’s rather something “very self-manageable” for a remote village setting, using SELV technology and a kind of household-level “energy router”. Which would employ a supply-and-demand matching and demand planning protocol similar to what you seem to have in mind.

(If you are interested in more details, I could try to find my notes again.)


Yes that sounds very similar, it would be great to get the notes. I’m thinking about designing the communication protocols to start with and aiming in the long term to get an ecosystem of different hardware and user facing apps to adopt those protocols. So the exact method of planning loads/etc would evolve over time.

Ideally I’d like if it worked in the grid and also off grid scenario. Lots of people will be living on the grid for a while and having predictable/coordinated loads could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a lot. The larger scale that entails would also make the equipment a lot cheaper and the software more robust for all concerned.

Grid attatched would require buy in from national grid operators and governments, which might be harder to get. I’ll pursue both avenues for the moment and see what develops.


Here they are :slight_smile: As you see, these are just notes, so don’t be surprised about weird and messy content. Mostly these are plans for an electronics project. But you might find the survey of existing technology and open source projects relevant, esp. the protocol and emonPi.

Offgrid Energy System Notes (HTML, 99 kiB)

(The file will open directly in the browser, replacing the site navigation. Click on + to unfold the list. It’s exported from FreeMind.)

Yes if it’s about people feeding back into the grid. Not if it’s about demand planning and all locally produced electricity is consumed locally or via direct connections to neighboring houses. The grid would still be a failover solution and backup, but there would be no need for the expensive certification process of grid-tried inverters. For more details about this concept, see:

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@eb4890 thank you very much for describing your project! Sounds amazing.

Feel free to invite those conversation partners of you to our platform as well! What are the next steps you are planning? Is there anything specific you feel you would need to get off the ground? If yes, please share your calls for ideas, collaborators or meetings here with and images so we can share them further and help each other to grow this bigger :).

Yes we would include calls to them in our social media outreach channels and help spread the invitation out if we know where to point them.

What are the next steps you are planning?

I’m going to create a website explaining the concept more to use in comms. I’ve not had much time recently to do anything on this, next week is my next bit of free time.

Hi @eb4890,

This is a tall order indeed, and you seem like you’ve got the background and experience to take a credible stab at it. I don’t know the first thing about energy grids but I do know about the power of collaboration in large scale endeavors; would you indulge me for a sec and help me and others here understand which the most relevant communities are that you’d need to work with in order to make progress on this?

For example, if you’d like to tackle a disease of some kind, you’d likely want some university medical centers involved as well as medical folks with experience in the relevant locales, and maybe some NGOs on the ground with the means to reach out onsite.

What would be the equivalents for you, which are the kinds of complementary skills or networks you’d need to have the best chance of making this work, or where do you see existing work that could be leveraged to get there?

Hi @pbihr ,

There are multiple different scenarios it could be deployed in and depending upon which scenario you are going for depends upon who you talk to.

  1. On earth, micro-grid scenarios with equipment from multiple different people: You would want to talk to NGOs/ and other orgs that set up away from current infrastructure and need something to manage demand/flow.
  2. Grid attached solar/battery/e-vehicle setups: You would need to talk to grid management companies
    (e.g. National Grid PLC in the uk) and the governmental regulators.
  3. In space, micro-grid scenarios with equipment from multiple different people: ESA, NASA, blue origin, CNSA.

You would need to do scenario two to achieve significant CO2 reductions, but it might best be approached from trying to achieve scenario one or three first.

Currently I don’t know which scenario is the easiest to approach, so I have to think about all three. I’m a little burned out from my previous project and current job stress, so it might well take me a while build networks or skills.

I’m working slowly on some stories to try and make concrete what my current thoughts are, to spark future conversations.

@pbihr Thank you very much for your thoughtful questions and interest in learning about and in pushing the interesting project further!

@eb4890 Thank you for the mapping out of those initial scenarios. We hope you can find all the time and energy you need and that this community can help you with that.
I find your approach with the stories extremely interesting! I think it would be great if you would also post them here in the stories category with a small introduction and maybe an image if you have one. Those could be great to connect to more people and draw interest and collaborator into the project, and we would be happy to share those as well :slight_smile:

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I think this is really pretty on point, but surely there must be some project trying to acchieve this already out there? I dont know of any myself though, but it makes sense, so if not, its over due to start working on it… :slight_smile:

Hi Julia. There are lots of people building different bits that solve some of these problems.

Energy companies have some protocols for communicating with smart meters, but it is not standardised so your smart meter might lose smart functionality when switching supplier.

Another example of solving part of the problem is the sion car can choose to share it’s energy but mainly through the centralised app. This means you are reliant on an internet connection in order to be able to share your car and have the other potential problems inherent in relying on a centralised service (such as it going away or becoming less reliable). You also may want to share your energy on a mutual credit basis rather than selling it, so it may not suit you. I don’t know of anyone who is trying to solve it in a decentralised way. These ways are hard to monetise and so hard to build a company around. But there may be something I don’t know about.

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Hi there!

This was a great conversation to read and code. I was however wondering how people feel about the privacy concerns inherent to smart-meters. Some cities (like Amsterdam) have made them mandatory.

A friend of mine, permanently DDoS his meter to prevent the energy company from getting in-vivo updates on his energy use. Because does not see why this is necessary given the fact that the by-hand measuring system also works.

There is also the question of the accuracy of such smart meters:


Just my .2 cents


Where I live in northern California the controversy about smart meters was not so much privacy but the radiation waves it puts out when it ‘phones home’ which they do on and off all day.

Many here are also freaked out about wifi and cell towers, to the point that some parents a few years ago made the local high school remove their school-wide wifi system. But then, where I live many people are convinced that airplanes leave “chem trails” in their path that are meant to make us all dumber or turn us into sheep or something along those lines.


Turns out, they are half right. Airplanes leave chemtrails of CO2 that make the climate hotter … :worried:


Interesting (yet not surprising) to see how the same technologies raise different societal question based on the various broader political discussions they’re embedded in (i.e. efficiency through smart meters in the netherlands, conspiracy + health in the us, and environmental concerns in many countries).

Academics tend to talk about this phenomenon in terms of “domestication theory” which holds that people integrate (and subvert) technologies into their lives on their terms, rather than just wholesale taking or using them as given by their designers.

Would love to read more on how the domestication of technologies (like wifi or 5G) leads to different societal concerns and hence, to different civil society and regulatory responses.

Anyways, did not mean to hog this thread with unrelated musings. So back to the electricity grid :wink:

Who does use microgrids today?

The county I live in - Mendocino in California - has the highest per capita number of off-grid houses in the country. But I don’t think there are microgrids here.

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Thank you for this feedback and re invigoration of the discussion!

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