Prof. Gretchen Bakke presenting on the social aspects of microgrids.
Photos by Owen Egan and Joni Dufour

Audience members engaged in lively discussion.
Photos by Owen Egan and Joni Dufour

Prof. Chris Marnay providing an introduction to microgrids.
Photos by Owen Egan and Joni Dufour

Is there a role for microgrids in the energy future of Quebec and Canada?

Overview/Aperçu

On April 25th and 26th, 2017, TISED hosts a two-day Research Workshop Program convening various stakeholders to on the topic of microgrids. We also held a public event on April 25th: "Is there a role for microgrids in the energy future of Quebec and Canada?" 

Microgrids are locally controlled power systems, such as university campuses, usually grid connected, but able to operate as electrical islands. They have become an increasingly familiar power sector feature in recent years, representing one of the three legs of the smart grid stool, together with enhanced megagrid operations and grid-customer interaction. Recent reports claim dramatic growth in projects planned to around 116 GW total worldwide, of which about 43% is in world’s biggest market, North America (Navigant Research, 2016). Notably, the northeastern U.S. and Japan have embraced microgrids following the twin disasters of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Hurricane Sandy. These traumatic events represented a turning point after which the concept of microgrid and its perceived benefits shifted beyond economic and environmental goals towards resilience. Consequently, microgrids have begun to find a natural place in the regulatory and policy arena. Québec, whose energy situation appears blessed in many ways, does not seem to offer a fertile landscape for microgrids. With abundant, cheap, carbon-free electricity, relatively undeveloped electricity markets, and faded memories of the 1998 ice storm, the province looks distinct from its neighbors to the south. This workshop will assess the technology, policy, and economics of microgrids, and explore their potential contribution to Quebec’s energy future.

Development of microgrids has followed a crooked path that has led to interest being currently high in the U.S. and Japan, with significant activity but with much less dynamism elsewhere, and with different drivers. Where Québec lies in the microgrid landscape is an open question.

Perhaps surprisingly, microgrid history is fairly short, dating roughly from the turn of the last century. This is not to say independent power systems did not exist previously, which meet the modern definitions of a microgrid. Indeed they did, rather emerging technology has greatly expanded their capabilities and the spectrum of opportunities. Many commentators have noted that the power industry began as numerous small isolated power systems, which over time have become increasingly interconnected and interdependent. While the whole world is still not fully interconnected, some major regions are, such as North America’s huge Western Interconnection encompassing most of 11 U.S. states plus some corners of others, two Canadian provinces, and a toehold in Mexico.

It is also often noted that some legacy "microgrids" survive in remote locations, unconnected to the wider grid. This line of reasoning makes it easy to dismiss microgrids as nothing new but rather a holdover or renaissance of the industry's roots; however, this perspective misses key characteristics of the modern microgrid concept, which is conceived as a part of the whole legacy electricity supply system, not as something separate from it, and yet it is indeed semi-autonomous.

Looking at the future energy landscape that Québec will face, microgrids will likely be a feature at some uncertain level. Microgrids offer some interesting opportunities for power industry entrants, and the distinction between the domains where they might be central players and not represents one of the key fault lines that must be determined. In fact, microgrids of many forms are possible. In addition to the above-mentioned campus microgrids, similar large facilities like hospitals, commercial parks, financial institutions, and industrial facilities are also prime candidates. Emergency response capabilities, police, fire, medical, and more, are the particular focus of the large New York Prize microgrid program. As projects are built out, which few of them are to date, they are accompanied by circuit level reimagining of what the macrogrid is, how it might function to integrate these, or even how it might be structurally transformed into a foam-like structure of hundreds even thousands of much smaller ‘island-able’ grids that on good days still function as a public good while nevertheless having undergone a structural revolution at the micro- and nano- grid scale. These are the futures being imagined when programs like the New York’s microgrid prize and it's wider Reforming the Energy Vision regulatory proceeding are put into place.

While these microgrids are typically sizeable electricity consumers that primarily seek higher power quality, reliability, and resilience, other types of microgrids are certainly possible and likely. Community power systems, facilities with low-quality local energy resources (such as farms or wastewater treatment plants), critical infrastructure, (such as metro networks), are all potential microgrids. Identifying which may emerge here, defining and classifying them and observing how their roles may differ is a first analysis task. Then significance of these actors' existence in the distribution network must be assessed, and their consequences gauged.

There does seem to be a breaking point at which non-radical, everyday folks begin to consider electrical infrastructure a domain into which they can intervene. For some this has meant moving aging parents to a different state where the electricity system is more stable, for others it has meant getting a diesel back-up generator, microgrids and nano-grids (home sized ‘island-able’ electricity systems) also have a certain appeal especially after particularly horrific storm damage or to industries that are determined to not suffer even brief outages, such as data centers.

"Resilience" has emerged as the major driver for microgrids in the U.S. and Japan. This focus comes in the wake of severe natural disasters the two countries have experienced and growing concern about the extreme weather events climate change will spawn. A widely accepted definition of resilience appears in U.S. Presidential Policy Directive 21 (The White House, 2013): "… ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions." While this definition does not make explicit that resilience is measured relative to a major catastrophe, this sense is quite clear in The Royal Society report. Current interest in microgrids then is in no small measure motivated by the promise that they have a better chance than the megagrid of delivering power during a disaster, and/or they can recover faster. To achieve this, however, they must have a fuel source or adequate storage. This has indeed been true in some notable cases. The public and policymakers in Japan were heavily influenced by the stellar performance of two microgrids, Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, and one of the Tohuku Fukushi University campuses in Sendai. In the northeast U.S., the resilience of New York and Princeton Universities, as well as other microgrids, make a similarly deep impression. When microgrid performance is discussed, it is naturally by comparison to the megagrid. In all of these examples, the microgrid was able to function at some level throughout a blackout of a few days, and without any other support services, such as fuel deliveries.

Another sector that needs power under highly adverse conditions is the military, and sure enough, it has shown great interest in microgrids. In the U.S. particularly, a significant effort is being made to harden power supply to bases using microgrids, primarily under a program called Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS). In fact, the U.S. military is probably the only institution worldwide that has endorsed microgrids as the default arrangement for its facilities.


Y a-t-il une place pour les miniréseaux dans l’avenir énergétique du Québec et du Canada?

Les 25 et 26 avril 2017, TISED accueillera un atelier de recherche sur le thème des miniréseaux, qui réunira divers intervenants de ce secteur. Dans le cadre de notre atelier, il y'avait aussi un événement "Is there a role for microgrids in the energy future of Quebec and Canada". 
Les miniréseaux sont des réseaux électriques installés localement, comme sur des campus, qui sont habituellement connectés au réseau principal, mais qui peuvent fonctionner de manière autonome. Depuis quelques années, ils sont de plus en plus communs et constituent maintenant un des trois piliers du réseau électrique intelligent, les deux autres étant le méga réseau amélioré et l’interaction entre le réseau et le client. Selon des rapports récents, le nombre de projets prévus a augmenté considérablement; ils représentent environ 116 GW au total dans le monde; une part d’environ 43 % de cette capacité est liée à des projets qui seront réalisés en Amérique du Nord, soit le plus grand marché mondial (Navigant Research, 2016). Il convient de noter que le nord-est des États-Unis et le Japon ont adopté les miniréseaux dans la foulée de l’important tremblement de terre qui a secoué l’est du Japon et de l’ouragan Sandy. Ces catastrophes ont été des moments décisifs après lesquels les miniréseaux sont passés de solutions qui offrent des avantages sur le plan économique et environnemental à des moyens qui permettent d’améliorer la résilience. Par conséquent, les miniréseaux se sont naturellement taillé une place dans les cadres réglementaire et politique. Le Québec, qui est privilégié sur le plan énergétique à bien des égards, ne semble pas offrir le terrain fertile nécessaire à la croissance des miniréseaux. Cette province où l’électricité est produite en abondance, à faibles coûts et sans émissions de CO2, où le marché de l’électricité est relativement peu développé et où les souvenirs de la tempête de verglas de 1998 s’estompent, se distingue de ses voisins du sud. Cet atelier permettra d’évaluer la technologie, les politiques et les facteurs économiques liés aux miniréseaux et d’explorer le rôle qu’ils pourraient jouer dans l’avenir énergétique du Québec.

Le développement des miniréseaux suit un parcours sinueux comme en témoigne le fait qu’ils suscitent un vif intérêt aux États-Unis et au Japon, où l’activité est importante à leur égard, mais beaucoup moins ailleurs, où divers facteurs sont en jeu. Quelle est la place du Québec dans le secteur des miniréseaux? Cette question est toujours sans réponse.

Ce qui peut sembler surprenant est le fait que l’histoire des miniréseaux est relativement courte puisqu’elle remonte à peu près au début du siècle dernier. Cela ne veut pas dire que les réseaux électriques autonomes, qui répondent aux définitions modernes d’un miniréseau, n’existaient pas précédemment. Ils existaient, mais grâce aux technologies émergentes, leurs capacités ont considérablement augmenté tout comme l’éventail des possibilités qu’ils offrent. De nombreux commentateurs ont souligné qu’au début, le secteur de l’électricité était constitué d’un ensemble de petits réseaux isolés, qui, au fil du temps, sont devenus de plus en plus interreliés et interdépendants. Bien que tous les réseaux du monde ne soient pas entièrement interreliés, un certain nombre de grandes régions le sont, comme la région située à l’ouest de l’Amérique du Nord où un énorme réseau englobe la majeure partie de 11 états américains, certaines parties d’autres états, deux provinces canadiennes et une région du Mexique.

En outre, on prétend souvent que certains « miniréseaux » réussissent à subsister en régions éloignées, sans être reliés au réseau principal. En raison de cette perception, il est facile de considérer les miniréseaux comme n’étant rien de nouveau, comme un vestige ou une relance des origines révolues du secteur; toutefois, cette perception ne tient pas compte des caractéristiques clés du concept moderne de miniréseau, qui n’est pas séparé de l’ensemble du réseau électrique, mais en fait partie, bien qu’il soit, en effet, semi-autonome.

Si l’on considère l’avenir du Québec sur le plan énergétique, les miniréseaux auront probablement leur place, bien que la portée qu’ils auront demeure incertaine. Les miniréseaux offrent des possibilités intéressantes pour les nouveaux venus dans ce secteur et l’une des principales lignes de faille qui doivent être déterminées concerne les distinctions entre les domaines où ils peuvent jouer un rôle de premier plan et les autres. En fait, les miniréseaux peuvent prendre des formes diverses. En plus de les retrouver sur des campus, comme il est mentionné ci-dessus, les miniréseaux font souvent partie intégrante de grandes installations similaires comme les hôpitaux, les parcs commerciaux, les institutions financières et les installations industrielles. L’important programme de miniréseaux New York Prize vise notamment les fonctions d’intervention d’urgence, les services de police et d’incendie et les services médicaux. Au fur et à mesure que les projets sont réalisés, et il n’y en a que quelques-uns à ce jour, la conception est revue à l’échelle des circuits à l’appui des grands réseaux, ainsi que la façon dont les miniréseaux peuvent y être intégrés, ou même la façon dont les grands réseaux pourraient être transformés en une structure spongiforme composée de milliers de petits réseaux pouvant fonctionner de manière autonome au service du public, mais ayant subi une révolution structurale à très petite échelle. Voilà l’avenir tel qu’il est imaginé lorsqu’on met en œuvre des initiatives comme le programme de miniréseaux New York Prize et la stratégie générale Reforming the Energy Vision.

Bien que ces miniréseaux consomment généralement une importante quantité d’électricité et offrent une alimentation de qualité, fiable et résiliente, la mise en place d’autres types de miniréseaux est non seulement possible, mais probable. Les réseaux d’alimentation communautaires, les installations dotées de ressources énergétiques locales de faible qualité (comme les exploitations agricoles et les usines de traitement des eaux usées), les infrastructures essentielles (comme les réseaux de métros) sont tous des exemples d’installations qui pourraient être dotées de miniréseaux. La première tâche d’analyse consiste à déterminer lesquels pourraient être développés ici, à les définir, à les classer et à observer les différences entre les fonctions que chacun peut remplir. Par la suite, l’importance de ces miniréseaux dans le réseau de distribution doit être évaluée et leurs effets mesurés.

 

Il semble y avoir un moment décisif où les gens ordinaires commencent à réaliser qu’ils peuvent intervenir en ce qui a trait à l’infrastructure électrique. Par exemple, certains convainquent leurs parents vieillissants de déménager vers un autre état où le réseau électrique est plus stable; d’autres se procurent une génératrice de secours alimentée au diesel. Les miniréseaux et les microréseaux (réseaux électriques domiciliaires autonomes) ont un certain attrait, en particulier pour les gens qui ont subi des dégâts importants lors d’une tempête ou pour les secteurs qui sont déterminés à éviter des pannes de courant, même de courte durée, comme les centres de données.

La « résilience » est devenue le principal moteur du développement des miniréseaux aux États-Unis et au Japon. Cet intérêt découle des graves catastrophes naturelles que les deux pays ont subies et des préoccupations croissantes engendrées par les phénomènes météorologiques extrêmes causés par les changements climatiques. Une définition généralement acceptée de la résilience est donnée dans la Directive présidentielle 21 des États-Unis (The White House, 2013). Elle est comme suit : « [traduction] ... capacité à se préparer et à s’adapter aux conditions en évolution, à résister aux perturbations et à se remettre rapidement des situations qui en découlent ». Dans cette définition, le lien qui existe entre la résilience et l’importance d’une catastrophe n’est pas explicite, mais il est assez clair dans le rapport de The Royal Society. L’intérêt que suscitent les miniréseaux à l’heure actuelle est fortement motivé par les avis selon lesquels leur capacité à assurer l’alimentation électrique en cas de catastrophe est supérieure à celle des mégaréseaux et qu’en cas de panne ils peuvent être rétablis plus rapidement. Pour ce faire, cependant, ils doivent pouvoir compter sur une source d’énergie ou un mécanisme de stockage adéquat. Cela s’est avéré exact dans certaines situations notables. Le public et les décideurs au Japon ont été fortement influencés par l’excellent rendement de deux miniréseaux, soit celui de Roppongi Hills à Tokyo et ceux des campus de l’Université Tohuku Fukushi à Sendai. Dans le nord-est des États-Unis, la résilience de certains miniréseaux comme ceux des universités de New York et de Princeton a produit une impression tout aussi forte. Lorsqu’on parle du rendement des miniréseaux, on le compare naturellement à celui des grands réseaux. Dans tous ces cas, les miniréseaux ont été en mesure de fonctionner à un certain niveau et sans arrêt pendant une panne de courant de quelques jours et sans avoir à recourir à d’autres services de soutien, comme l’approvisionnement en carburant.

Les forces armées sont un autre secteur qui a besoin d’électricité dans des conditions très défavorables; il n’est donc pas étonnant qu’elles considèrent les miniréseaux avec grand intérêt. Aux États-Unis, en particulier, des efforts considérables sont déployés pour améliorer la fiabilité de l’alimentation électrique sur les bases militaires à l’aide de miniréseaux; ces travaux sont principalement effectués dans le cadre d’un programme nommé Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS). En fait, l’armée américaine est probablement la seule organisation au monde à avoir approuvé le recours aux miniréseaux par défaut pour ses installations.

Speakers, PPTs, Videos

Watch each presentation on this YouTube Playlist

Chris Marnay, Moderator, TISED Scholar-in-Residence, McGill University

What is a microgrid?
PDF icon Marnay slides
Power systems that could legitimately be called microgrids, i.e. locally controlled and able to function either grid connected or as electrical islands have existed since the dawn of the industry. Their modern development, though, has mostly occurred in this century, and their deployment is rapidly accelerating. Primarily for resilience reasons, the northeastern U.S. and Japan have embraced microgrids following their twin disasters, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Hurricane Sandy. This presentation will provide an introduction to microgrids, report on the research and development that took place during the first decade of the century, and describe alternative future pathways the electricity supply sector may follow.


Gretchen Bakke, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, McGill University

The human dimension
PDF icon Bakke slides
Since about 2008 there has been a groundswell of intervention in the workings of what we now call the macrogrid that aren't coming from within the utility sector. One of the great drivers of this shift from indifference toward action is the failing reliability of the current system. One blossoming idea is that microgrids, even if privately owned, can still serve members of a damaged community by offering, heat, light, etc. during and following a disaster. Microgrids that promote community level resiliency seem to be most popular in densely populated areas, like the eastern seaboard after Superstorm Sandy or New England after Hurricane Irene. Microgrid projects once commonly blocked by regulators and utilities are now being offered a certain regulatory ease in storm affected densely populated areas. They are accompanied by circuit level reimagining of what the macrogrid is, and even how it might be structurally transformed into a foamlike structure of hundreds even thousands of much smaller islandable grids.


François Bouffard, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, TISED, McGill University

Grid Issues
PDF icon Bouffard slides

The planning and operation of microgrids represent a wide set of exciting problems which are challenging some of the core principles of electric power engineering. Nonetheless, these challenges give rise to multiple opportunities for improving energy system resilience and carbon footprint. In this presentation, we look at some of those challenges and opportunities through a Québec lens. We will discuss some scenarios for microgrids to be rolled out within this truly distinct power system.


Angelo Giumento, Manager Smart Grid & Technology Solutions at Hydro-Québec

The Hydro-Québec Perspective
PDF icon Giumento slides


 Peter Lilienthal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), HOMER Energy

Microgrid Activity around the World
PDF icon Lilienthal slides

There are tens of thousands of microgrids around the world, but the majority of them are very simple diesel-powered systems. Advances in renewable energy, storage, power electronics and control technology are being deployed to create more sustainable microgrids supplying high quality, reliable power.  This presentation will distil insights from HOMER Energy’s database of 25,000 microgrid projects in 193 countries.  These projects range from tiny systems to power African villages that have never before had power to power systems for islands the size of St. Thomas, Aruba, or Maui.  A new category is the grid-connected microgrids that are being developed to make critical infrastructure more resilient against catastrophic events, such as ice storms and terrorist actions. Hurricane Sandy has prompted local authorities throughout the Northeast US to develop pilot projects. The best example of this is in New York State, where the NY Prize program has funded 83 conceptual designs and is now pursuing final design on 11 projects throughout the state.  NY is also embarking on its ambitious REV (Reforming Energy Vision) program to incentivize utility companies to promote distributed power and microgrids.


Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Professor, Department of Decision Sciences, Chair in Energy Sector Management, HEC Montréal

Québec & Canada’s Electricity Situation
PDF icon Pineau slides
Canada has the largest energy consumption per capita in the world, among countries with a population greater than 5 million. This is in part explained by the very high electricity consumption in Canada, fueled by the abundant and cheap hydroelectricity available in some provinces, especially in Quebec, where most of the hydropower production takes place. Hydropower development in Quebec is based on megagrids, with many power plants at 1,000 km from loads. Residential users consume between 13 and 20 MWh per year on average, depending on their region. Consequently, microgrids developments will face many obstacles.


Saad Sayeef, Research Scientist, CSIRO

Microgrids in Australia
PDF icon Sayeef slides
Australia’s electricity system supports our economy and lifestyle and it is changing at an unprecedented scale. The transformation is driven by customers, as they embrace new technologies, take control of their energy usage and support action on climate change. Australia, like Canada, has a vast land area with some of the world’s longest transmission lines and feeders. The country also has a large number of remote communities that are powered by off-grid systems, where the penetration of renewables has been increasing significantly in recent years. This presentation will provide an overview of recent trials, deployments, and developments in the microgrids space across Australia.

The Microgrid Working Group wants your constructive comments, suggestions, and your questions

What are the opportunities and challenges for microgrids? The working group will produce a white paper published on TISED's website and thoughtful written comments will be considered! Your input will make a difference! If you'd like, submit your comments here (anonymously if you'd like). 


Envoyez-nous vos commentaires!

Le groupe de travail sur les miniréseaux souhaite que vous lui fassiez parvenir vos commentaires constructifs, vos suggestions et vos questions!

Quelles sont les possibilités qu’offrent les miniréseaux et quels défis posent-ils? Le groupe de travail produira un livre blanc qui sera publié sur le site Web de TISED; Votre participation fait une différence! Si vous souhaitez apporter votre contribution, parvenir vos commentaires en cliquant sur ce lien (de façon anonyme si vous le préférez).

Members of the "Microgrid Working Group" 

Chris Marnay (Chair), TISED Scholar-in-Residence, McGill University
Chris Marnay is a retired Staff Scientist from the Energy Technologies Area of LBNL, where he had worked for 29 years, focusing on microgrids for about 15 years. He has lectured widely on microgrid principles, economics, and demonstrations, chaired the first ten annual Microgrids Symposiums, and serves as Convenor of CIGRÉ WG6.22 Microgrid Evolution Roadmap. He invented and then led work for over a decade on the development of the DER Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM), which finds optimum technology neutral combinations of equipment and operating schedules, given prevailing economic circumstances and available equipment descriptions. He has an A.B. in Development Studies, an M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics, and a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, all from the University of California, Berkeley.

Pierre-Olivier Pineau (co-Chair), Professor, Department of Decision Sciences, Chair in Energy Sector Management, HEC Montréal
Pierre-Oliver Pineau (Ph.D., HEC Montréal) is a professor in the Department of Decision Sciences of HEC Montréal and holds the Chair in Energy Sector Management. He is an energy policy and management specialist, focusing on electricity reforms. He has published widely, typically exploring the links between energy and sustainable development. He participates regularly in public debate on energy and has authored many reports for the government and other public organizations. He is a member of the CAEE, CIRODD and the institute EDDEC. Before joining HEC Montreal, he was an associate professor at the School of Public Administration, University of Victoria (2001-2006).

Louis Beaumier (co-Chair), Directeur exécutif, Institut de l'énergie Trottier
After earning a research-based Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, Mr. Beaumier began his career in software development. He is active in many fields of application, ranging from distributed immersive simulation systems to speech recognition interfaces. The experience that he has acquired over the years in the various positions that he has held (from Developer to Director of Research and Development), has taught him that a poorly understood problem, or poorly presented solution, can each lead to difficulties within software project contexts. In light of this, he is committed to product management, emphasizing a better understanding of the needs and presentations of technical solutions, which ultimately enhance relationships with clients. This experience is what he brings to Institut de l’énergie Trottier (IET).

Gretchen Bakke, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, McGill University
Gretchen Bakke holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Cultural Anthropology. Her work focuses on the chaos and creativity that emerges during social, cultural, and technological transitions. For the past decade, she has been researching and writing about the changing culture of electricity in the United States. She is the author of The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and Our Energy Future (2016). Gretchen is a former fellow in Wesleyan University’s Science in Society Program, a former Fulbright fellow, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at McGill University. Born in Portland, Oregon, Bakke now lives in Montreal.

François Bouffard, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McGill University
François Bouffard is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University. His research expertise is at the interface of electric power engineering and operations research. He is particularly interested in the formulation of decision-support tools aimed at low carbon energy system operators and planners.

Angelo Giumento, Manager Smart Grid Technology Solutions at Hydro-Québec
Angelo Giumento is currently the Manager of Smart Grid and Technology Solutions at Hydro-Québec, where he has served since spring 2015. He follows multiple new technologies and new business practices, including transportation electrification, grid impact studies, energy distribution technology, sales and marketing, contract negotiations, IT, and corporate strategy. Previously he has held various other positions at HQ, including Project Manager, Smart Grid Engineer, and Electric Transportation Engineer. He has also worked at CEATI International and Future Electronics. He holds a B.Eng from McGill and a DEC from Marianopolis College.

Soam Goel, Partner at Anbaric Development Partners
Soam Goel is focused on growth and development through acquisitions for Anbaric. Soam Goel has been the Chief Commercial Officer of Power Network New Mexico, a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Global Infrastructure Fund (GSIP). He originated the project for GSIP. At Power Network he was responsible for the overall economics/ profitability, regulatory filings, customers and markets, and the commercial success of the project.Mr. Goel founded Enersights in 2004 to provide strategic advice to senior executives of utility companies and financial participants. Prior to that, he spent 10 years with PA Consulting and its predecessor firms. He was named Partner in 1998 and co-headed the energy M&A practice. Under his leadership, the firm conducted assignments such as utility M&A, generation, and transmission transactions – $40M to $8B in size – for utilities, industry vendors, investment banks, and private equity. Prior experience includes leading several multi-client studies at UMS Group for energy companies to identify world class operations benchmarks and best practices. Soam was selected in the fast-track management development program at Unilever Group of Companies. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Peter Lilienthal, CEO, HOMER Energy
Peter Lilienthal is the CEO of HOMER Energy. Since 1993, he has been the developer of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s HOMER® hybrid power optimization software, which has been used by over 180,000 energy practitioners in 193 countries. Dr. Lilienthal was the Senior Economist with International Programs at NREL from 1990 – 2007. He helped create NREL’s Village Power Programs. He has a Ph.D. in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. He has been active in renewable energy since 1978, including teaching at university, project development, and consulting to industry and regulators.

Andrew Melchers, Digital Grid Products, Siemens Canada
Andrew Melchers develops business for Digital Grid in the Energy Management division at Siemens Canada. The current focus within the Digital Grid business is on microgrids, but previously has also included protection and control, substation automation, and feeder automation. Prior to joining Digital Grid Andrew developed the solar photovoltaic inverter business for Siemens Canada, where he focused on sales and marketing involving the launch of the central and string inverters.

Normand Mousseau, Directeur académique, Institut de l'énergie Trottier (IET), Titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en physique numérique des matériaux complexes, Université de Montréal

Normand Mousseau is a Professor of Physics at Université de Montréal and holder of the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Computational Physics of Complex Materials. After completing his Ph.D. at Michigan State University, he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Oxford University in England and at Université de Montréal. An internationally acclaimed researcher in complex materials and biophysics, Normand Mousseau has authored more than 150 scientific articles and is passionate about the popularization of science. Since 2005, he has had a special interest in energy and natural resources, and in addition to his numerous media interventions, he has published a number of books on this topic. In 2013, he co-chaired the Commission sur les enjeux énergétiques du Québec, that published the report entitled “Maîtriser notre avenir énergétique, pour le bénéfice économique, environnemental et social de tous”. This report was released to the public in late February of 2014.

Mark O'Malley, Flaherty Visiting Professor (TISED), Prof. Electrical Engineering, University College Dublin
Mark O'Malley was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1962 and graduated with a BE and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the National University of Ireland in 1983 and 1987 respectively.  He is Professor of Electrical Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD), founding Director of the Electricity Research Centre and Director of the UCD Energy Institute a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, industry supported research activity.  He is recognized as a world authority on Energy Systems Integration and in particular Grid Integration of Renewable Energy.  He has active research collaborations in Europe, the United States (US) and China and is a co-founder of the International Institute for Energy Systems Integration.  He has spent sabbaticals in the University of Virginia, University of Washington and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  He has received two Fulbright Scholarships (1994 & 1999).  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Alexandre Prieur, Smartgrid Project Leader, Canmet ENERGY, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
Prieur is a Smart Grid projects leader at CanmetENERGY, an energy and science research laboratory of the federal department of Natural Resources Canada. His research activities focus on the application of flexible resources and renewable energy integration into Smart Grids. Alexandre he is also leading a project on Smart Grid standardization in Canada. Prior to joining CanmetENERGY in 2009, he worked for 10 years within the private sector, in the telecommunication industry.

Janos Rajda, Senior Technical Advisor, RYDA Design & Service Inc.
Janos Rajda is a distributed energy resource power systems and power electronics consultant. He provides microgrid/energy storage/UPS design solutions, advisory services, applications and equipment engineering and technical sales consultancy services in Senior Technical Advisor and/or Technical Sales Consultant contractor roles. Through RYDA Design & Service Inc., Janos provides technical sales insights to project development teams and advanced inverter product applications support to its clients, such as NRCan/Canmet ENERGY, Canadian Solar Solutions' Microgrid Test Center Development, SMA America LLC/SMA Canada Inc., United Technology Corp./ UTC-Power, Celestica International Inc, EnerDel Inc., and others. As a Director of Application Engineering and Technical Sales at Satcon Technology Inc/Inverpower Controls Ltd., Janos contributed a unique MV Sub-cycle Disconnect Switch solution for Santa Rita Jail Smart Microgrid Grid project enabling true seamless grid connect-disconnect islanding transfers. Janos earned his Master of Engineering degree at the University of Toronto and holds several U.S. and PCT patents for innovative, medium voltage power electronic equipment designs. He is a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Saad Sayeef, Research Scientist, CSIRO
Saad Sayeef is a Research Engineer in the Grids and Energy Efficiency Research Program within the Energy Business Unit of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), working in the areas of renewable energy integration and energy efficiency. Prior to joining CSIRO, he was a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong where he worked on the control of wind turbines and energy storage for Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) systems. Saad holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Afzal Siddiqui, Visiting Professor, Department of Decision Studies, HEC Montréal
Afzal Siddiqui is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Statistical Science. Afzal received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley in 2002. Previously, he was a Lecturer in Statistics at UCL (2005-2010) and a College Lecturer in the Department of Banking and Finance at University College Dublin. Afzal served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at UC Berkeley (2002) and a Visiting Post-doctoral Researcher at the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2002-2003). In addition, he is a Professor (20% time) at Stockholm University and a Visiting Professor at the Systems Analysis Laboratory of Aalto University. Afzal's research interests are in energy economics, specifically the application of financial and operational research methods for making decisions under uncertainty and competition. Indeed, the deregulation of electricity industries worldwide means that policymakers must anticipate the behaviour of market participants when setting targets for sustainability.