President's Message : December 2016

President's Message : December 2016

BrahamFLooking Ahead to a Vibrant Future

While watching the new X-Men movie on the plane flying to the IEEE Energy Conversion Conference and Expo (ECCE), it occurred to me that the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) presidency was like wearing the Cerebro device of Charles Xavier. I was able to scan and observe power electronics activities around the globe and meet many members and volunteers. During the two years that I have served as Society president, I had an extraordinary view of what everyone was doing in power electronics around the globe.

We strengthened the global network and established closer relationships with our volunteers, who are spread out over the world, by expanding the team supporting regional activities to 12 chairs and vice chairs: in North America, Pradeep Shenoy is assisted by Alireza Safaee and Kalyan Sen; in Region 8, Fabio Crescimbini teamed up with Vladimir Katic; in Region 9, Marco Rivera joined Joao Pinto; and the large, growing membership in Region 10 is now served by five vice chairs: Toshihisa Shimizu, Zhengming Zhao, Sanjib Panda, Sewan Choi, and Udaya Madawala.Alan Mantooth

Serving as Society president is a great privilege and a fantastic experience. I would like to thank the team volunteers whose support made it a joy to serve as your president, and I would also like to acknowledge our terrific support team at the IEEE directed by Mike Kelly. The executive team of PELS serves a two-year term, and I am handing over the reins to Alan Mantooth (Right) and his new team. Many of the original team members will stay, but some elected positions will be filled by new members as elections are held for new members-at-large and vicepresident positions.

PELS 2021

PELS had a long-range planning retreat in May 2016 in Huangshan, China, and the revised five-year strategic plan was approved by the Administrative Committee in September. It was agreed by the committee that, strategically, the most important activities of the Society will remain, along with the production of publications and the organization of conferences, with a continued emphasis on quality, accuracy, and timeliness. Furthermore, it is important that the Society structure stays flexible and nimble to meet the needs of a growing, evolving field. Seven strategic directions were addressed.

1) Publications and conferences. The Society will continue to seek new global opportunities for different levels of collaborations. PELS will take actions to ensure that our publications are covering all technical activities within the Society and will be proactive in seeking out new areas that are not sufficiently served by our publications and conferences. Our Society plans to strengthen its worldwide network and visibility by organizing global strategy workshops and creating high-quality products on topics with high visibility through relationships with strategic partners.

2) Organization and operations. The technical committee (TC) structure has settled, and each TC has policies and procedures in place while more volunteers are joining their activities. The TCs are now in a position to act more strategically. Various items were proposed, for example, better support of digital media and improvements to existing initiatives.

3) Membership. Membership is core to our mission, and PELS wants our members’ experience to have the highest possible value and relevance to their individual needs. Our vision is to develop a robust marketing plan that focuses on desirability, value, identity, strength, and individuality, which are gained through the membership.

4) Education. Education represents the single most viable new opportunity for the Society to better serve its membership. In accordance with our mission, PELS plans to provide targeted education to enhance the careers of current and future professionals. Many excellent ideas were presented by the participants, and we will pursue business cases for the power electronics curriculum development, teacher’s forum certification courses, distinguished tutorials, continuing education credits, and webinars.

5) Online delivery and archiving. The goal is to provide additional online content to our membership, consistent to a “think globally, act locally” approach. Our Society wishes to be on the forefront of using the latest digital media for providing services to the power electronics community including webinars covering different technical levels both for industry and academia, improved online publications, eLearning courses, and the efficient use of social media.

6) Standards. PELS has restructured the standards organization to include more participants and dedicated volunteer positions. With the proliferation of power electronics in a wide variety of technical areas, there is a clear role for PELS to define and contribute to important standards activities in these fields. In the coming years, PELS will target the following areas: wide bandgap devices technology, dc in the home in smart grids and in microgrids, and transportation electrification.

7) Community collaboration and providing members a home. PELS will foster a dynamic global environment where power electronics communities preserve global individuality but at the same time collaborate in an open environment. This will be achieved by

  • improving and introducing new programs to support the career development of young professionals in power electronics
  • developing programs to address electrical energy poverty in developing nations
  • creating a travel grant program for students to attend PELS conferences.

Power Electronics in 2030

This year, 2030 was much in the news due to the proposed IEEE constitutional amendment that IEEE Members failed to pass. The discussion was packaged in a long-term view of the future of the IEEE as an organization. The impact of the initiatives that PELS launched this year aims to facilitate technology changes that will affect power electronics systems in 2030.

For example, the emergence of power electronic-based transmission and distribution technology as a driving force for grid modernization is coinciding with fundamental changes that are taking place in the ac power grid. Whereas the old conventional grid was scalable and the stability easily manageable, modernized power systems are now plagued by sub-, super-, and interharmonic resonances that are caused by the introduction of renewables and power electronics components. We are now in a phase in which we often solve the problems caused by power electronics by adding more power electronics. Therefore, it is necessary to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to build power systems that are softly coupled to the sources of inertia, i.e., synchronous machine rotors and large batteries, and where either harmonics are eliminated or employed constructively instead of acting as sources of  pollution and causing instability.

The Lighting Up a Billion Smiles Competition

The goal for the new initiative project is to reach the global tipping point for small renewable energy systems, and we foresee that a new disruptive power system technology will emerge due to tremendous advances and cost reduction in photovoltaic, battery, and communication technologies. A wireless power web that operates on wireless energy from the sun and uses wireless communication to the cloud can become the entry-level power system, benefiting communities in emerging economies that face extreme energy poverty. It can provide a low-cost alternative to the traditional wired power grid in low population density areas around the world, and it is an environmentally friendly alternative
that does not require a large capital investment. Connecting energy devices with copper cables remains possible, but it becomes an optional feature because the management and control of the energy devices are done through the cloud.

The Lighting Up a Billion Smiles competition targets the development of appropriate wireless power web technologies for an estimated 3 billion people across the globe in regions such as Africa and India, where there is no access (off grid) or extremely limited access (poor grid) to electricity. Rather than be prescriptive about a solution, PELS feels it is critical to harness the creativity, talent, and passion of the global community and to have them be collaboratively involved in finding one or multiple solutions that can achieve the transformative impact desired. A global competition in combination with mash-up events help provide a common context and framework as well as the basis for broad collaboration.

International Technology Road Map for Wide-Bandgap Power Semiconductors

In the “President’s Message” column in the June 2016 issue of this magazine, I reported the formation of the International Technology Road Map for Wide-Bandgap Power Semiconductors (ITRW). We hit the  nail on the head with the timing. The founding meeting was in December 2015, shortly after it was  decided to discontinue the International Technology Road Map for Semiconductors (ITRS) that influenced microelectronic technology development for 50 years. One of the ITRS spin-off activities that will continue is the Heterogeneous Integration Technology Road Map for Semiconductors (HITRS) sponsored by the IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society. The implication

is that the IEEE is taking over the role of continuing strategic road mapping of electronics technology.  Certain 2030 paths for wide-bandgap (WBG) power semiconductors have already surfaced. For example, silicon carbide and gallium nitride (GaN) are set to take over transportation applications because of weight reduction advantages. Plus, GaN is establishing a new MHz+ application field that includes envelope-tracking power stages and wireless power applications. Still to be addressed is the heterogeneous integration of WBG devices in power modules and systems-in-package. Integrated

filtering is essential since the WBG devices are switching an order of magnitude faster than their silicon counterparts causing substantial electromagnetic interference. The superior benefits offered by WBG devices, such as high efficiency, compactness, and high-frequency operation, can only become disruptive if the electromagnetic compatibility performance of the system components is impeccable. For this purpose, advanced heterogeneous technologies need to be developed, and the related goals need to be mapped; therefore, ITRW and HITRS have agreed to cooperate closely in the future.

A Final Word

Attendance milestones were set this year when the 2016 IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition and the ECCE, respectively, exceeded 5,000 and 1,500 registrations. There is an increasing demand for power electronic engineers and a growing number of course programs at universities.  These are productive times for power electronics, and the Society’s finances are in very good shape. Our Society can look ahead to a vibrant next five years, thriving on the power electronics challenges that the energy transition is bringing about. A 2030 horizon will bring some major technology changes, some that may be disruptive. The power electronics community will be faced with transformational concepts such as the wireless power web described in this column, multitudes of energy-scavenging Internet of Things devices, and implementing energy requirements when virtual reality merges with physical reality.