Interoperability Roadmap Methodology

The Interoperability Roadmap Methodology document supports the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) Interoperability Project’s efforts to advance interoperability as an essential component for the successful and more seamless integration of intelligent, communicating technologies into the electric power system.  This proposed methodology supports the strategic approach to advance interoperability described in the GMLC Interoperability Project’s Interoperability Strategic Vision: Enabling an Interactive Grid.1  That document proposes engaging an ecosystem of businesses interested in integrating smart technology with the electric power system to develop an interoperability roadmap using a methodical approach.  This roadmap methodology is to be applied to technology integration ecosystems (e.g., electric vehicles, photovoltaic inverters, or automated buildings), using tools that measure the state of interoperability today, to identify the gaps and challenges that can be overcome to improve interoperability, and thereby, simplify the integration process. 

The roadmap methodology considers the interoperability categories defined in the GridWise Interoperability Context-Setting Framework.2  Within and across technology ecosystems, different approaches exist for advancing interoperability and these approaches may change in the future. The interoperability roadmap methodology recognizes that the approach to advancing interoperability must be flexible and not necessarily universally uniform within every ecosystem.  The interfaces tend to already be at different levels of maturity of interoperability.  Improving interoperability is not a case of starting with a blank sheet of paper. Devices, systems, and processes already exist and improvements mean providing reasonable transition paths from previous integration processes and standards to the new features. The resulting roadmap should clearly portray the stages of evolution anticipated in moving toward a vision that addresses important integration issues. 

To help accomplish the process of developing a roadmap, the methodology uses the interoperability maturity model3 (IMM) as a tool to articulate a baseline level of interoperability and to identify the gaps and priority aspects to consider for evolving toward higher levels of interoperability maturity.  The IMM was created in parallel with the roadmap methodology because of their close relationship. The ultimate goal of a roadmap effort is to improve the interoperability maturity level to levels that meet ecosystem objectives while being sensitive to the state of the art, the projected technology advances, and the cost/value of the effort. 

In creating the interoperability roadmap methodology, the project team reviewed several technology roadmap processes and found one that fits well with the objectives of this effort.  The International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Roadmaps: A Guide to Development and Implementation4 offers a process for creating roadmaps that fits well with the needs for building consensus among the various parties with interest in technology integration and enabling field deployments through standardized agreements.  This approach was adapted to the specific needs of electric power system interoperability as described in this document.