A recent smart grid workshop hosted by the University of Alberta’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering attracted leading researchers and energy industry professional from across the globe to discuss soft power grid solutions, distributed generation, and the continuing evolution of power systems.
The conference was designed to build and strengthen connections between industry and universities and help create clarify the status of local markets.
John McDonald, GE Energy Management’s director of technical strategy and policy development, says, “There’s no question industry looks to partner with universities. The more [events] like this you hold, the more aware we are of what the hot issues are locally. We’re a multinational company, but we don’t know until we’re meeting with people in different places and have discussions with them what the regional differences and needs are.”
E.ON’s director of its Energy Research Centre at Aachen Rik De Doncker gave a keynote that discussed the changes to power generation and distribution happening in Germany and the rapid growth of renewable energy sources in the country. “On the technical side, I find that even the German companies here are talking more openly about the opportunities of new technologies than we do in Germany. What I learned from the presentations here is about the issues utilities have to deal with here and the fact that Canada is following very quickly in the automation of the energy sector. That’s very good because I think Canada is much closer to Germany in the development of the smart grid.”
Doncker adds: “The UofA electrical energy systems group has definitely built up a strong program in power electronics and this has been a great opportunity for researchers to exchange ideas with each other and with industry and business partners. We are not going to do this alone. We need researchers all over the world working on this technology.”
Speakers included representatives from GE Energy Management, Toshiba, and Siemens.