President's Message: December 2019

Working on a Better Planet

Frede Blaabjerg 2019by Frede Blaabjerg

As a society president I have the honor of visiting many countries and engaging in discussions   with many people from different organizations. One clear trend I am seeing is that the global agreement on United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a better planet is quickly moving forward, with many initiatives on a large scale. Many of the goals are only achievable by electrification - and that translates into a lot of power electronic solutions - which means the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) is instrumental in providing these  technology solutions to the world.

One very important goal is to bring electricity to billions of people living in remote regions of the world who have no access to it. Here, PELS is playing an important role through the leadership of Prof. Deepak Divan from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. For the past two years, Prof. Divan has been running a global competition called IEEE Empower a Billion Lives (EBL), which fosters new and innovative solutions to provide electricity in an economically sustainable way to areas with no electricity. In addition, the best solutions should further be demonstrated in the field to validate the readiness of the proposed solutions.

The EBL began with more than 450 teams from 70 countries competing in five regions: China, India, South Africa, Spain and the United States. Out of that, 23 teams from around the world were selected to compete in the final round at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE) 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. The winning team was from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and presented an excellent proposal. I have to say, the amount of interest around the world for this initiative is tremendous. And because of the interest it has generated in finding a sustainable low-cost solution for energy access, EBL should   continue for years to come, perhaps in collaboration with other organizations to acquire more funding and generate even better solutions to reach the remotest areas of the world. I’d like to thank Prof. Divan and all the teams that have worked with him to make this great effort a success. Also, I would like to thank all sponsors who have contributed to the activities around the world and the final awards presented at ECCE.

Many of the UNs other SDGs also need power electronics. In September, I attended EPE ’19 ECCE in Genova, Italy, and, in October,  ECCE 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland, with 1000 and 1,800 delegates, respectively. After looking at their programs, I can see that the current research activities are very broad, with continuous improvements in power electronics technology. One area is, of course, wide-band-gap (WBG) devices, which offer much lower losses when performing power conversion. Another area is transportation electrification, which moves at a very rapid pace, and a third area could be the renewable generation and its impact on the grid system where, e.g. new analysis methods are needed to map uncertainties.With respect to WBG  devices, our Society presented a roadmap at ECCE in Baltimore, which is available to all of our members. For that, Prof. Peter Wilson from the University of Bath, United Kingdom and Prof. Braham Ferreira from the University of Twente, The Netherlands, have played key roles. Many thanks to them and all contributors to the WBG technology roadmap. PELS members can download the report from the PELS website Resource Center at no charge ( 

According to our Society news, the impact factors for our journals have been released and seem to have improved slightly since last year, which is a good indication that high level papers are being published and, thereby, being cited. For the first time we have obtained an impact factor for IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification, which is above 5, a great number to start. It takes at least three to obtain an impact factor. This also means that our new journal IEEE Open Journal of Power Electronics,  will have an impact factor after three years: I encourage our readers to submit to this journal and have your papers published in golden open access so that everyone can read your contributions.

Our doctoral schools, where PELS provides lecturers, also seems to be a success. Thus far, we have participated in two: one has been in Italy with more than 150 participants, and another in China, with roughly 300 participants. I hope that we can expand these activities to other continents and hold them annually. The technical content and networking are high priorities for  Ph.D. students.

This summer, our Society reached an all-time high record of 10,000 members. We have enjoyed a steady growth over the last few years, and Chapters around the world continue to do a great job recruiting and holding activities to attract new members. However, good conferences, strong publications, and Society activities also motivate new members to join PELS. The potential is much greater if the Society is able to provide the best services and products its members, and this is something that we plan to address in our strategic plan for 2020-2025. More about this is to come in my next “President’s Message.” As 2019 comes to a close, I wish you all a nice holiday season.