9 May 2013

Interest Generating for Control and Power Electronics

Professor Qingchang Zhong has recently returned to the Department from an EPSRC-funded sabbatical within the USA, the aim of which was to foster long-term collaboration with leading Control and Power Electronics experts in the US. A dissemination workshop was held on Professor Zhong’s return to Sheffield to inform colleagues from both academia and industry about his work. 33 participants attended the workshop, including representatives from major international companies such as Rolls-Royce, National Grid, Alstom, National Instruments and the Northern Powergrid.

During his year long sabbatical Professor Zhong was based at UC San Diego and Virginia Tech and visited three NSF Engineering Research Centers, two DOE national laboratories and over 20 Universities in total. He also attended ten international conferences, delivered five workshops and tutorials and completed five journal papers as well as a research monograph,  ‘Control of Power Inverters in Renewable Energy and Smart Grid Integration’, which made number 17 on the Amazon Best Sellers list for Power Generation and Distribution.

Professor Zhong presented his conclusions that energy topics would remain high on the agenda for at least another 10 years, since a great deal of investment was still being pumped into the area. Professor Zhong argued that many stakeholders have now realized that smart grid integration represents the bottleneck of large-scale utilization of renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Professor Zhong contended that his lengthy experience and contributions in the area have placed his team in a unique position to tackle this bottleneck. In addition, Professor Zhong pointed to three emerging areas:

  • Nanotechnology: The focusing area of the third-generation ERCs and many research centers in this area have been set up in the US.
  • Autonomous systems: It is possible that this will be the focus area of the fourth-generation ERCs.
  • Cyber-physical systems: An area being developed and worth paying particular attention to.

Participants at the workshop were shown the new Control and Power Systems (CAPS) Lab and advised to visit Professor Zhong’s website for full detail about the work undertaken in the sabbatical at http://zhongqc.staff.shef.ac.uk/sabbatical/sabbatical.html.