An Interview with IEEE Smart Grid eNewsletter Editor Mehrdad Boloorchi
Learn more about Mehrdad Boloorchi, IEEE Smart Grid eNewsletter editor from Stantec Consulting Engineering.
What is your name, what have you studied and where have you worked in the past 3 years?
My name is Mehrdad Boloorchi and I have degrees in Electrical Engineering and Industrial Management. I have been working in Stantec Consulting engineering firm for the past 3 years.
How did you get involved with the Smart Grid as a field of the power systems research and/or industry? How would you define the Smart Grid and what are your thoughts and aspirations on what the Smart Grid will be shaped to be in the next 10 years?
Cybernetics or science of communication and control systems in man-made and live systems was my passion since I was a high school student, and I always had many ideas about intelligent systems and how to design and build them. Back where I come from, I have since played an effective role in migrating power system control from electromechanical relays to microprocessor-based relays. Also in my home country, I have invented several automatic control systems including six-axis motion control system for lathe machines, ceramic tiles quality control system, submerged fermentation plants, and desalination plants. I moved to Canada in 1999. Since then I have been involved in engineering services and projects on relevant topics.
I had, and have had, many ideas about the smart and automated control of power systems. Smart Grid concepts and technologies are very close to my heart. As I see it, Smart Grid is still in its adolescence period, however, considering the pace of the scientific and technological developments in the field it may reach its maturity within the next ten years. How it evolves towards maturity depends on policies, strategic planning, and availability of the required financial support.
I can summarize my expectations from the Smart Grid as follows:
- Highly efficient use of the energy resources. i.e. minimizing the power and energy systems loses, this requires a good knowledge of all elements of the grid, their condition, their capabilities, etc.;
- Highly adaptable behavior of assets, i.e. highly resilient in the face of perturbations, highly reliable;
- Limited if not zero negative impact on the environment;
- Highly safe and secure;
Obviously, it is a multi-objective multiagent system and its realization requires carefully contemplated regulations and standards. I think, in a politically healthy environment, we may meet at least 60% of the above goals sooner than later.
What have been the 2 articles that you have liked from the IEEE SG eNewsletter in the past 3 years?
I like two articles/ ideas that I have prepared on interconnected microgrids concept and application of Smart Grid technology in power quality management more than others as they are more aligned with the expectations that I described above.
Do you believe that the applications and the paradigms that have emerged from the Smart Grid research and industrial developments face challenges in their deployment? What would you identify as the most critical short-term and long-term challenges among them?
I think the micro grid concepts have not been clearly described yet, so they are not well understood. Many professionals think it is only a highly advanced control system that might be required for power systems with high penetration of solar and wind energy. They cannot realize the role of intelligently interconnected network of power system elements in efficiency improvement, in reducing the system expansion expenditures, as well as reducing the O&M expenses. This lack of understanding of the advantages of the micro grid is one of the biggest challenges in their deployment. In addition, lack of a clear strategy and roadmap supported by regulations cause a passive approach towards the Smart Grid paradigms as a whole.
How can we effectively communicate concepts, objectives, applications and paradigms that have emerged from the Smart Grid R&D to utilities and industry?
I think first we should provide a very clear description and picture of Smart Grid concepts, objectives, and applications, supported by well analyzed proofs of concept, then think about effective communication of this information with different groups of decision makers and users. This is an important and delicate subject that I think needs several brain storming sessions.
What do you think is one of the Smart Grid applications or paradigms that you find very valuable and believe could serve as an answer to the challenges faced by the power system industries of the present and the future?
I think adaptive capabilities make Smart Grid paradigms highly resilient in the face of perturbations. Furthermore, improving the energy efficiency, reducing system expansion expenses and O&M expenses are equally important aspects that need to be clearly described, quantified and communicated to all power system stakeholders and decision makers.