Energy Use of our Future—An Exclusive Interview with Smart Technology Expert, Prof. Jianhui Wang

published Sep 04, 2017
5 min read

This year, a new educational program will take place at North America’s largest solar event, Solar Power International (SPI), titled The Technical Symposium, it will run September 10-13, 2017 in Las Vegas. During these three days, globally renowned experts of the photovoltaic, energy storage and smart technology industries will share their knowledge on late breaking, innovative technologies. The program is targeted to professionals from the academic, R&D, technical and scientific disciplines who intend to educate themselves further on highly topical subjects and innovations of their business field.

The content presented during The Technical Symposium was carefully selected out of a large range of scientific abstracts submitted by technical researchers and developers from all over the world. A committee of 19 scientific leaders reviewed and scored each submission blindly to ensure the highest level of quality concerning the presentation topics over the three conference days, abstracts were selected for poster or oral presentation and all accepted submissions will be published in the Proceedings of the Technical Program at Solar Power International with a citation.

Prof. Jianhui Wang is one of the program committee chairs responsible for the smart technology track. Prof. Wang is the Section Manager for advanced power grid modelling in the Energy Systems Division at Argonne National Laboratory and an associate professor at Southern Methodist University, secretary of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) Power System Operations, Planning, & Economics committee, Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid and an IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer. His commitment in the development of smart grid systems and renewable integration makes him a global leader in the design of the future energy supply, means of transport and intelligent living space planning. Prof. Wang will host the first day of The Technical Symposium, September 11, which is completely dedicated to advancements and trends in the smart technology industry.

  1. Prof. Wang, smart grid integration includes a wide range of different problematics. Sustainable energy sources need to be adapted to existing grid infrastructures as well as into the market. Are these two sides hindering each other and what are currently the bigger issues to solve?

Thanks for the questions. Rather than hindering each other, I would say that they complement each other and thereby ensure a resilient and sustainable energy future.

From the perspective of grid infrastructure, sustainable energy sources should be effectively integrated into the existing grid, which needs a versatile and cost-effective means to guarantee that there is no conflict between sustainable energy sources and existing infrastructures. Taking these into account, I would emphasize ongoing grid modernization efforts for sustainable energy resource integration, both on the bulk power grid level and distribution system level. Our grid is changing and evolving in a positive way to be more flexible, more resilience and more robust to address some of the challenges associated with renewable energy integration such as the uncertainty and variability in their output. From the market perspective, it is also challenging as our market was not designed with this much renewable generation in mind. The market was mostly set up with a predominant dispatchable generation fleet, which needs to be changed and is being changed. Most of the electricity markets in the U.S. have adapted their market rules to facilitate the integration of large amounts of renewable generation.

2. Revolutionizing the human energy consumption is an urgent aim, which strives to counter the global climate problems by reorienting towards an increased use of clean and renewable energy sources. You are a member of IEEE, an organization describing itself as
dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity”. In the view of the current state of the energy system in the U.S., how do you rate the human efforts today?

Thanks to the continuous effort that has been made so far, we have reached many remarkable milestones in many disciplines. The human efforts toward renewable energy development are positive and remarkable. Consumers in many places want to choose and purchase electricity from renewable energy sources and such options have been made available to them. Also, demand response and energy efficiency programs have been widely deployed in the U.S. which enables the direct participation of consumers in contributing to clean energy development.

3. The speakers of the Technical Symposium’s first day promise concrete technical solutions pushing forward the energy transition. One of the first presentations will be given by the IEEE SCC 21 chair, speaking about changes of standards and regulations that will affect the solar market and microgrid projects within the next years. Can you give a short outlook on the most radical changes that will affect the everyday life of urban citizens in the near future?

I appreciate the question and I personally also look forward to the exciting presentations on the standardization and regulatory issues. Indeed, they have been playing a significant role in facilitating solar and microgrid deployment. In my own opinion, the most radical changes may be the increasing penetration of distributed energy resource. Some requirements at the device level will also be updated, such as allowing solar sources to participate in reactive power adjustment. This architectural transformation indicates a bottom-up revolution in many related systems and standards, including interface inverter controllers, microgrid controllers, distribution management systems, etc.

4. Your research treats the different global markets and also reflects upon price policies and political fundaments in the energy sector of different cultures. As a specialist, could you outline the best-practices and the greatest challenges that the two leading world industries China and the USA face at the moment? Where are the main differences in the national approaches concerning the implementation of smart technologies?

Both China and the USA have significant renewable energy potential and goals. Despite the political and cultural differences, there is a consensus that incorporating renewable energies is a promising solution to achieve a clean and sustainable energy future. The solar energy markets in both countries are expected to keep growing at record pace, thanks to the government incentives and associated emerging technologies. Many demonstration projects on energy storage and microgrids for solar power integration in both countries have provided very meaningful lessons and knowledge for the rest of the world.

As to the differences in the implementation of smart technologies, the implementation of smart grid technologies is mainly happening on the high-voltage transmission grid in China while in the U.S. the low-voltage distribution grid is the focus.

5. In your opinion, are data protection issues satisfactorily taken into account by developers of smart technologies?

Data protection is an emerging concern in the era of smart grid. As renewable energy resources and smart technologies are ubiquitously deployed, the attack surface exposed to malicious entities is inevitably enlarged. Smart technology developers have to seriously take cybersecurity issues into consideration in their work. However, cybersecurity research is still relatively nascent and a lot needs to be done. It is extremely challenging to always keep ahead of the curve with cyber attackers. Cybersecurity can only be achieved through a systematically designed architecture that can perform holistic attack awareness, defense-in-depth protection, and proactive defense through advanced analytical technologies and seamless coordination.






Prof. Jianhui Wang, Editor-in-Chief IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid at Argonne National Lab, Committee Chair Smart Technology Day at The Technical Symposium, SPI





Conference: The Technical Symposium at Solar Power International
Date: September 10-13, 2017
Location: Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV

Day 1: Smart Technologies Day
Day 2: Energy Storage Day
Day 3: Solar Energy (Photovoltaics) Day

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