President's Message: September 2020
The New Today
by Frede Blaabjerg
Unfortunately, with a continuous growth in number of infected people and deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play a more dominant role around the world. What was expected to be just a seasonal short event seems to be a very long lasting challenge for the planet, where we are all waiting for effective solutions from the scientific community – a powerful vaccine for COVID-19 and efficient methods to treat people who are infected. However, in worst case scenario, this can take years before an effective remedy is available. Consequently, safety precautions will have to be taken for a long time. Therefore, as IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) president, I will discuss what is going on in PELS and what I see as the new today for the Society.
Although PELS has moved almost all sponsored conferences into the autumn, the IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference and Exposition (ITEC) 2020 was the first virtual event held in June – it was a great success where the ON24 virtual platform was used to run the conference and it was a combination of live events and recorded presentations. We got lot more attendees because many could more easily attend as they did not have to travel. But, we also lost few attendees as they were missing important networking events and the physical exhibition. Nevertheless, it looks now that all conferences will have to offer a virtual platform because there will be some authors who are unable to travel for a number of reasons and they should have the opportunity to present their latest research, and get challenged by their peers. So for me the New Today for conferences is clearly a virtual platform in combination with in-person event as there is a good chance that many participants will be able to attend.
For IEEE, safety and health is a top priority when making decisions for conferences and related activities. Therefore, it will take years to build economically feasible conferences around a virtual platform. Full virtual conferences present challenges in terms of time zone as it is hard to cover the entire planet at the same time. But, on the other hand, all presentations are often streamed, and participants can play/see all activities on demand. Thus, allowing participants to play/see presentations more than once for better understanding. For the moment, the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition Asia (ECCE-Asia), International Symposium on Power Electronics for Distributed Generation System, ECCE-NA. and Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics are planning for hybrid solutions, while EPE ECCE-Europe has opted to become fully virtual. The virtual event has in general less cost risk and can easily attract more participants because the only expense will be registration and the time to attend. There will be no travel and hotel expenses. Subsequently, we can expect larger attendance for such conferences in the future. As lot of infrastructure is not needed to hold such virtual events, it can be more easy to build new type of such events in the future. However, we face challenges to offer the same service and exposure to manufacturers and companies who prefer an exhibition, and we have to work on that, as it is an important part of our Society.
Many of our chapter activities are also in-person events for doing networking and we have seen a decrease. We are now seeing that chapters are organizing virtual events, which is a very good way to exchange information and also offer networking. Going forward, PELS will also support more such events. An interesting outcome of such virtual events is that they can now be more global, even though it is organized locally. Thus, in the coming years, we can expect chapter activities to go the virtual way.
The PELS society is now doing strategic planning for 2020-2024. All the sessions are now virtual, led by senior past president Braham Ferreira with help from different executives who are part of this process. The goal is to have a final draft ready for presentation at our next Administrative Committee (AdCom) meeting, which will be held at ECCE-NA in October. In this strategy meeting, new initiatives that offer new products to members will be proposed. It will be our response to the New Today. It could be new basic power electronic courses, new publications, new kind of events in the virtual space or round table discussions on brand new areas.
At the last AdCom meeting, it was approved to expand the number of technical committees (TCs) from 7 to 12 in order to cover all technical areas of the expanding power electronics technology, and give you as a society member at least one TC of interest. The final names of the committees are under development and I hope to announce them in the next president’s message column. Areas like design methodologies/AI, storage, aerospace, microgrids/energy access, wireless power transfer, and electronic power grid will be included.
As many have been locked out of their working places, PELS has decided to extend open access to our Resource Center where non-members can view all past PELS webinars and slides in our resource center for free. It has turned out to be a very good idea as the number of hits have gone 10 times higher than before. It is helping non-members to learn about the technology we are developing. If you have never tried those resources, try them now at https://resourcecenter.ieee-pels.org. It will continue to grow day by day. By comparison with the past, we are now seeing more attendance in webinars – about 4-5 times more registrants. Such events are becoming a standard and are on high demand.
In the new today, we also see a stronger trend towards open science – that results achieved should be available to all. We are determined not only to solve the challenges due to the pandemic but also to solve challenges resulting from the climate change, environment etc. We see publishers go fully golden open access with their journals, offer more data around a published paper, as well as use data sources for their papers before they are finally accepted. Fortunately, PELS has been on the forefront by offering the IEEE Open Journal of Power Electronics, which seems to be a strong success but the possibility of golden open access is also a valid option for our other journals – such journals are hybrid journals. IEEE has further established a platform for open access and non-reviewed research material called TechRxiv, where authors can upload their latest research. The amount of material is growing at a very fast pace and much power electronics related material can also be found there - see at https://www.techrxiv.org/.
Meanwhile, I am also happy to say that PELS continues to work on several standards activities led by PELS volunteers. They include WG-P389: “Recommended Practice for Testing Transformers and Inductors for Electronics Applications”; WG-P1573: “Recommended Practice for Electronic Power Subsystems: Parameters, Interfaces, Elements, and Performance”; WG-P2030.1: “Guide for Grid Infrastructure for Electric Transportation”; WG-P2004: “Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) Simulation Based Testing of Electric Power Apparatus and Controls; WG-1662: “Design and Application of Power Electronics in Electrical Power Systems on Ships”; and WG-P389: “Recommended Practice for Testing Transformers and Inductors for Electronics Applications.” Additionally, we have also launched a complete new roadmap called IEEE International Technology Roadmap of Power Electronics for Distributed Energy Systems, as well as a new Study Group on Grid-forming Inverters. Here we call on volunteers to get involved with these key initiatives and help PELS play a leading role in Standards activities. Johan Enslin is the Vice President Standards.
Now this message seems only to talk about virtual activities as the future for our Society, which seems to be the case for the moment. However, physical meetings and networking will still be in demand and needed – many of us are missing the conferences and events to discuss with peers. Let us hope that this will be the new (old) tomorrow.
Stay safe and take care