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EECON 2019 – Call for Papers and Save the Dates

Sorted by Penelope Lyons

EECON 2019 – Call for Papers and Save the Dates



This year the NSW/ACT Chapter of EESA will be hosting the 2 day National EESA conference – EECON. The theme of EECON 2019 is “Engineering leadership providing sustainable, customer-centric electric energy solutions through the interactive grid”. EECON 2019 will be held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney on 26th and 27th of November 2019.

As Chair of the NSW/ACT Chapter of EESA I am keen to ensure that the content of the conference meets the needs of the people who work in all areas of electric energy and thus there is a talented and experienced EECON 2019 Conference Organising committee putting together a really interesting program that will give attendees a good understanding of the “threats and opportunities” they are likely to see over the coming years.

As someone who has been involved as an engineer working in many different roles in the electric energy area for over 50 years, I have seen many changes – and these changes are continuing. My early experience was in System Control and Operations of a rapidly growing distribution network – and I was exposed to all the practical issues associated in “keeping the lights on” for customers and thus I personally appreciate the challenges involved in successfully operating/managing an even more complex electricity network in today’s environment. In my “early days” as an engineer saw the introduction of the internet (yes the internet!), personal computers and mobile phones as well as “Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition” that all assisted in improving the control and operation of the electricity distribution network as well as collecting data and turning this into information to improve the overall management of network assets.

In today’s context, the growing decentralisation of energy production, mainly via solar and wind, is increasing the complexity of managing transmission and distribution networks. Decentralised energy production will move to a significant proportion of all energy production in the national electricity market in the next 10 years. Hence, distributed energy resources (DER) are seen to be changing the role of a distribution network operator (DNO) to that of a distribution system operator (DSO). This move to a DSO role requires the use of active network management solutions involving smart metering, energy market oriented control and monitoring of distribution networks, distributed generation, microgrids, energy storage and customer installations – that is - a very complex “smart grid” with two way flows of energy.

Some of the key areas of change that I see occurring are described briefly in the following paragraphs.

The falling costs of both large and small-scale renewables and other distributed energy resources are driving their rapid deployment. The changes in the mix of electricity generation require new methods for managing system security, such as frequency and stability. In addition, the dynamic behaviour of the distribution system, specifically two-way flows of energy, provides new challenges for effective transmission and distribution network planning and operation.

Customer choices are more directly driving investment trends by increasingly valuing services that use energy, such as home heating, cooling, water heating, electric vehicles and pool pumps, among many others. Commercial and Industrial customers are also pursuing more energy efficient options such as improving energy efficiency of buildings, reducing electricity demand during high cost periods and monitoring energy consumption in real time to better understand how to reduce their energy costs. We are seeing a step change in how commercial and industrial, as well as residential, customers participate in meeting their energy supply and demand requirements through distributed resources, including solar panels, electric vehicles, automation and storage. The rise of shopping centre “microgrids” is another example of these changes in customer behaviour. The economic incentives provided by more efficient tariffs implemented with smart meters and active energy monitoring is also driving these changes.

Thus the operation of distribution networks is becoming much more dynamic and unpredictable with the connection of numerous new devices at the lowest voltage levels and hence the need for increased monitoring and control – and automation - at all levels. Strong cyber security strategies will be essential to mitigate risks of damage and unauthorised use or exploitation of information and data.

Power system resilience will continue to be critical. Instead of reinforcing existing systems by traditional means of grid strengthening, resilience planning will need to consider mechanisms using the increased flexibility provided by the diversity of disaggregated control options, the use of storage (for demand management), and will require sophisticated network monitoring to respond to system constraints using lower-cost operational measures.

Good asset management processes and systems will need to be in place to ensure that the network business fundamentals are not overlooked with all the changes that are occurring across all aspects of a network business.

Good health and safety regimes will also be required to ensure the safe operation of the increasingly complex network components and the associated control and monitoring systems for safe outcomes for all stakeholders.

As well as the above engineering related issues, the future will require an increased need for multiple stakeholder awareness and interaction and a much broader and more diverse set of workforce skills for the success of the more complex and diversified DSO business.

In order for us all to better understand many of the above issues, EECON 2019 is targeting speakers from across a range of subject areas including

  • Technology (Storage - micro to macro; Generation - new mix, new solutions; Automation - the rise of the interactive grid; Transport – EV’s and mobile storage)
  • Asset Management (Aged assets/condition monitoring/replacement/refurbishment; Defining and planning for resilience; Designing for condition monitoring)
  • Regulatory environment (Customer themes; Impact of regulatory model and settings; Capital and labour productivity; Corporate governance and engineering decision-making; Stimulating R&D in a heavily regulated industry)
  • People issues (Safety; Change management/leadership; Enhancing productivity)
  • Utility evolution (Moving to a DSO model; Diversification as a solution to volatile energy revenues; What is the utility of the future?)
  • System Security enhancements (Dynamic Voltage Restorers; Synchronous condensers; Synchrophasors; Cyber security)

Submit an abstract for an opportunity to present your ideas/learnings amongst a gathering of leaders, policy-makers, buyers, sellers and experts from around the country. Abstracts should consist of a topic, presenter profile and contact details, and 100-word abstract of the proposed presentation. Submissions close Friday, 28 June 2019. Authors will be notified of acceptance on or before 24 July 2019.

In putting together the conference program we are also keen to give attendees the opportunity to engage with companies who provide equipment and/or services to the Electric Energy Businesses. Thus there will be a large exhibition area for sponsors, exhibitors and attendees to interact and exchange ideas.

Potential Sponsors, Exhibitors and attendees – save the dates of 26th and 27th of November 2019 in your calendar. You will hear more about EECON 2019 over the coming months.

Jeff Allen - EESA NSW/ACT Chapter Chair