Speakers for Plenary Session

Speaker 1: Nirmal Nair 

Nirmal Nair has BE from M.S. University, Baroda, ME in High Voltage from IISC and PhD from Texas A&M. He has held industry, research & academic postions in India, USA and New Zealand. Currently, he is an Associate Professor in Electrical & Computer Eng. at University of Auckland. He works on protection, renewable grid integration, electricity markets, blackouts, restoration & resilience and engages on industry projects through consultancy.  He is passionate about life-long-learning, energy policy, innovation and media outreach. Nirmal is actively involved with IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES), CIGRE and NZ Electricity Engineers Association (EEA).  In IEEE PES he has held various leadership positions and was nominated for elected positions of Candidate IEEE Division VII (Power & Energy) Director Elect 2017  and Candidate IEEE PES Treasurer (2018-19). He is CIGRE NZNC Executive Committee member & Asia-Oceania Regional Council representative since 2008; served as NZNC Secretary (2014-17); and Observer Member for CIGRE B5 (Protection and Automation) since 2010 participating and leading working groups. He was the General Organizing Chair for IEEE PES 2012 POWERCON, IEEE PES ISGT-ASIA 2017 and 2017 CIGRE AUCKLAND.


Title: Protection and Safety on Power systems with Highly Renewable Distributed Energy Resources


The United Nations Climate Change Paris Agreement (COP21) amongst 196 countries has triggered the rise in penetration of renewable distributed energy resources (DER) into AC interconnected power systems. Integration of different technologies and varying scales of renewable generation across interconnected transmission and distribution grids will accelerate resulting in pressure on ensuring safety and operational integrity of existing reliable power system operation. In this context one of the critical aspects impacted is the practice of power system protection and safety which this plenary will address. Existing knowledge of traditional safety and protection philosophies, schemes, practices and related system impacts will continue to be revisited to factor unique DER fault/abnormal characteristics and how they are electrically seen by the existing AC system and Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) protection devices.This plenary will highlight forward-looking and global transformative power system protection/safety concepts that helps understand challenges that highly distributed DER penetration causes and identify possible solutions using existing and newer technologies. The talk will address the following items:

  • Power System Protection issues associated with DER connected to transmission and sub-transmission network:
  • Protection and Safety impacts due to large-scale penetration of DER connected to MV and LV distribution network:
  • Newer concepts, analysis, techniques to enable effective sensitivity and selectivity for grid protection schemes with DER


Speaker 2: Ir Dr Zahrul Faizi

Ir Dr Zahrul Faizi bin Hussien is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Ranhill Power Division, since Nov 2016 leading the energy and power business of the company. He was the Head of Reliability, Performance & Utilities at Malakoff Power Berhad where he oversees the technical performance of Malakoff’s power plants as well as its electricity distribution and district cooling business from 2013 to 2016. He was previously with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, serving in various divisions as engineer and trainer; and various roles in consulting, research and management. He received his PhD in year 2000 and BEng in year 1995 from University of Southampton UK in Electrical Power Engineering.


Title: Overview if the Electricity Supply Industry in South East Asia – Growth and Challenges


Speaker 3: Dato Ir. Dr Ali Askar Sher Mohamad

Dato’ Ir. Dr. Ali Askar Sher Mohamad graduated with a BSc (Electrical Engineering) from Purdue University, West Lafayette, and a Masters in Power Engineering from UNSW, Sydney. He completed his PhD at UNITEN on the technical impact of connecting large scale solar PV plants to the utility network. He has served the Malaysian power utility TNB in various engineering and management positions. He taught at UNITEN from 2009 to 2011, teaching renewable energy and power systems subjects, while acting as a consultant to carry out Grid connection and Feasibility Studies for various renewable energy plants. During this time, he was also appointed as the Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water on RE grid connection issues and related legislation. In November 2011, he was appointed the first Chief Operating Officer of the newly set up Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia. During his tenure, renewable energy became a mainstream source of electricity, rather than being a fringe technology to be tolerated. On 31st March 2016, he ended his service as COO of SEDA and set up Sher Engineering & Consultancy Sdn Bhd, an engineering consultancy practice focusing on renewable energy projects, especially Grid connection in Malaysia and the ASEAN region, including Bangladesh. Dato’ Ir. Dr. Ali is active as an examiner for the Professional Interview for Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), sits on the Publication Committee of the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), is a member of MyENC as well as Technical Committee on RE. He is also an advisor to Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association besides being on the Board of a number of renewable energy companies.


Title: Distributed Generation – Challenges and Opportunities


Speaker 4: Phil Taylor 

Professor Phil Taylor is Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), and Siemens Professor of Energy Systems. He is an internationally leading researcher and industrial expert in energy systems, electrical distribution networks, smart grids, and energy storage integration and control. Electrical energy storage is central to the world’s energy future. It is vital to decarbonisation of the energy network, increases energy security and delivers energy user savings. Phil’s research team is leading large-scale energy storage demonstration projects throughout the UK. He is a leading researcher on the Energy Storage for Low Carbon Grids project funded by EPSRC that is working with multiple academic and industrial partners. The project aims to develop an integrated, cost-effective approach to deploying energy storage technology. Phil and his research team are behind the smart grid lab in collaboration with Siemens, and the energy storage test bed facility at Newcastle University. Both will be located at Science Central. Newcastle University researchers at these unique facilities are working with industry to pave the way for the UK’s future as an international leader in energy storage. Phil works regularly with energy suppliers and distributers in the UK on the use of energy storage for power quality improvement in distribution networks.


Title: Tackling the 4D Energy Challenge through Storage and Flexibility: Decarbonisation, Decentralisation, Democratisation, Digitisation


Internationally there is a drive towards providing low carbon energy through new build energy systems and to decarbonise existing energy systems. Crucial to low carbon energy systems is flexibility, this flexibility can come from the energy system assets themselves such as the network components, demand response and generator control. A potentially game changing source of flexibility is energy storage. Energy storage can be used to provide improved resilience and black start capabilities, assist with maintaining stability in the presence of high penetrations of renewable energy, avoid or delay network reinforcement costs and provide a vast array of ancillary services. However energy storage technologies are still relatively expensive, have complex and sometimes rapid degradation characteristics, raise safety and recycling questions. This means that the use of energy storage needs to be carefully undertaken. Analytical tools are required to understand which services the storage systems will provide and therefore the duty cycles they will experience. This can then be used to inform how to optimally size the storage devices, which technologies to use and where to locate them for maximum revenue and effectiveness. Finally once installed these energy systems need advanced control techniques to be developed such that the revenue is maximised and all contractual obligations are met while ensuring the asset lifetime is maximised. As we progress towards greater decentralisation we can envisage energy systems containing many thousands of diverse energy storage installations, geographically dispersed and sometimes mobile in the case of electric vehicles. Many of these storage systems may also be located in people’s homes leading to opportunities for greater democratisation in the way energy systems are operated. Recent advances in digitalisation mean that techniques such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things could enable the aggregation and coordinated control of many dispersed energy storage systems. However this could come with increased risk of cyber attack if not developed carefully. Professor Taylor will cover all of these aspects in his talk including experience from a number of real UK grid scale storage projects he has been involved in.