Four years in the planning, the University of Waikato is hosting the world’s first conference on industrial electronics for sustainable energy systems, bringing together experts from 22 countries.
That Waikato is hosting the conference is largely due to Associate Professor Nihal Kularatna from the School of Engineering who had the idea for it as far back as 2010, and in 2015 he worked with Tourism New Zealand to pitch the idea, subsequently winning the right to host the conference.
The conference comes under the umbrella of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organisation for the development of technology, which covers 40 different societies including the International Electronic Society (IES).
“We are working to address future energy needs for community and industry,” says Associate Professor Kularatna, an electronics engineer. “And in the case of IES it is sustainable or renewable energies that we focus on. We look at theories and applications of electronics, controls, communications, instrumentation and computer intelligence, covering electrical machines, energy storage, energy systems, transportation, artificial intelligence and much more.”
More than 100 delegates will be at the conference that runs 30 January to 2 February on campus. “We are lucky to have attracted some high-profile sector experts,” Associate Professor Kularatna says. They include three keynote speakers from the USA. They’re Professor Rajendra Singh from the Centre for Silicon Nanoelectronics at Clemson University in South Carolina, Dr Asad Madni from UCLA, and Doug Bailey who’s a Vice-President at Power Integrations in California. The fourth keynote speaker is Professor John Boys from the University of Auckland, a world expert on inductive power transfer systems.
Waikato’s Associate Professor Kularatna is perhaps best known for developing supercapacitor assisted (SCA) techniques, such as a supercapacitor assisted surge absorber (SCASA). A commercial surge protector to safeguard our consumer electronics such as LCD TVs, SCASA based surge protectors is now made commercially in Australia. He has travelled internationally to talk about his work, most recently in November to Silicon Valley, USA last year when he accepted an invitation to participate in a Masterclass focussing on E-mobility.
“I think we all want sustainable energy systems,” says Associate Professor Kularatna. “The challenge is to be able to combine all possible technologies to make those energy systems reliable, efficient, cheap and competitive. I’m hoping this conference goes some way to contribute to that aim.”