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UKZN Academics, Industry Experts and
Stakeholders at the Smart Grid Seminar.

The Eskom Centre of Excellence at UKZN recently hosted a Smart Grid Research Seminar at which masters and doctoral students presented their research proposals and progress reports to academics, industrial experts and stakeholders.

The Smart Grid Research Laboratory is first of its kind in Africa for training and research development (modelling, simulation and real-time analysis) of Smart Technologies and the integration of various renewable energy technologies into the Grid.

Smart Grid research focuses on the power quality and key issues regarding the technical performance of the networks with renewable energy injection at both transmission and distribution level, namely: voltage regulation, voltage fluctuations, rapid voltage change (RVC), electrical losses, distribution plant loading or utilisation, fault level, generation stability, equipment thermal limits, harmonics, phase balancing, supply availability, system security, and network reliability or security.

The seminar was an ideal platform for students to get feedback from other academics, colleagues, external researchers and industrial partners on their research work.

Presenters included Mr Viren Ramprith (MSc) who outlined the various smart grid technologies and the impacts at eThekwini Electricity; Mr Chih-Fong Wen (MSc) who discussed the basics of superconducting fault current limiters and the possible mitigating effects they could have on geomagnetically induced currents; Ms Gugulethu Dumakude (MSc) who is investigating how smart devices can improve the reliability of the network by reducing the frequency of both the momentary and sustained outages, reducing the duration of outages, maintenance and operational costs savings; Mr Usiholo Iruansi (PhD) whose research is focusing on detecting defects of the power line using automated image processing,  and Mr Arman Goudarzi (PhD) who is investigating Smart Grid through optical scheduling and placement of Hybrid Systems with their impact on the reserve requirement level in electricity market.

Discipline Leader in UKZN’s Electrical, Electronics and Computer Department, Professor Thomas Afullo, presented an award to Dr Leon Chetty, a former University of KwaZulu-Natal student, Lecturer and Researcher.

Chetty was last year awarded a US Patent Publication: US 2013/0041520 A1 on Method and System for Facilitating Design of a High Voltage (HVDC) Control Systems and a Method for Optimising an HVDC System. This invention relates to a method of and a system for facilitating design of a classic High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) control system, a method for optimising a classic High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) control system, and a HVDC control system.

In particular, the invention comprises the steps of determining at least a current control plant transfer function for a rectifier and/ or inverter of the classic HVDC control system by using a time domain current equation; determining at least a voltage control plant transfer function for at least a rectifier of the classic HVDC control system by using a time domain voltage equation; using the determined current control plant transfer function for the rectifier and/or inverter, and/ or the determined voltage control plant transfer function for at least the rectifier to facilitate design of the HVDC control system.

Chetty gave a vote of thanks and special recognition to his mentors and inspirations over the years, including Professor Tony Britton, Professor Nelson Ijumba and Dr IE Davidson, who taught him Power Electronics in 2001.

* The Eskom Centre of Excellence (CoE) at UKZN also serves as the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) Specialization Centre in High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Engineering. It is a multi-disciplinary research centre which focuses on research in technology relating to HVDC, power systems (including lines) and power electronics relating to alternate current systems. The Centre engages in applied scientific research and technology development in support of the National Development Plan (NDP) of the South African government, and to improve the living standards of people in the South African society and to contribute towards nation building.