For more than 40 years, Dr. Robin Podmore has dedicated his career to the development of computer applications for power system operations and planning. As an IEEE Fellow and a participant in the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge, Dr. Podmore has been advocating methods, standards, and programs whereby transmission and generation operators could enhance and add functions to their existing energy management systems through a series of incremental upgrades. Dr. Podmore is currently in the International Zone in Baghdad training Iraqi Grid Operators with his company’s PowerSimulator product to maintain the reliability of their interconnected electric systems.
IEEE: What areas of engineering and education do you feel are of critical importance in terms of working to create a more sustainable world?
Podmore: This question is one that captures my heart and intrigues my mind. In general, for both developed and underdeveloped countries, the solutions are a blend of distributed and centralized generation technologies along with renewable and non-renewable resources.
We are at an exciting time in the electric power industry. Innovative renewable generation technologies such as thin film photovoltaic solar and thermal solar with Stirling internal heat engines are being commercialized. Hybrid/electric vehicles are driving down the cost of converter, inverter, and battery storage technologies. Yet, we still need new and improved methods to help integrate our distributed and central generation solutions.
In engineering, we must realize how to develop distributed and renewable generation solutions that are scalable, maintainable by local talent and fully integrated with central generation solutions. In education we must develop a method to train the next generation of systems engineers from both developed and underdeveloped countries. We must integrate a multidiscipline environment into sustainability, from electrical, mechanical, civil, aeronautical, chemical, and hydrological technologies, and add a multicultural approach to training and leadership, if we expect wide-scale deployment and acceptance.
Finally, we must look to a blend of open source and proprietary solutions, whereby the open source designs are required to facilitate new entrants to market and the next layer of proprietary solutions are needed to encourage capitalistic investments.