By: Anjali Naik
Date: 1st June, 2021
The electrical engineering industry is going through major changes in different sectors. Power sector is the area in which crores and crores of rupees are being invested and will continue to be invested. In the power sector, the research and development is all about obtaining green and clean energy, storing it, utilizing it and conserving it in the best possible way. To fulfill these requirements the trends that are emerging, are renewable energy, smart grids, electric vehicles, and batteries.
The Smart Grid is a combination of other newly emerged trends in electrical engineering like distributed generation and renewable energy. The limited reserves of fossil fuels with environmental concerns make use of renewable sources necessary. So, the renewable energy sources like solar, wind are coming up at faster rates to support the conventional systems.
The use of these technologies which are small scale, have given rise to a new model, different than central power station model in which power stations, situated at remote places, due to environmental and safety concerns, supply load centres with the help of long transmission lines. The new model has its generating units distributed with generators installed near to load centres minimizing length and problems of transmission lines. The distributed generation with renewable energy generation has brought consumer itself in the process of power exchange. The small-scale units are installed and owned by consumers which can be standalone or grid connected. The consumer can always sell the surplus power to the grid. With this practice the system of delivery and supply has to be in the new frame which allows both consumers and suppliers to have a control. Such a control necessitates use of smart devices throughout the network. The grid is smart in the sense that it forms a network, makes use of computers and intelligence. With the help of information and communication technology it collects data and automatically action is taken about suppliers and consumers requirements. So, a smart grid is self-monitoring, self-restoring digital grid that involves two-way communication with a lot of possible controls. With the advantage of increased efficiency at reduced cost, future grids are going to be smart grids and Electrical Engineers are going to be an important part of them. In India there are five on-going projects, two in Chandigarh, one in Ranchi (Jharkhand), one in Rourkela (Odisha) and in six towns of Rajasthan.
Another emerging trend is that of Electrical Vehicles. One of the biggest problems that we are facing today is that of pollution. The main reason for air pollution is vehicles burning fuels in internal combustion engines for their running. Therefore, a cleaner alternative is required. One such alternative is battery electrical vehicle which uses energy stored in batteries to run the electric motors. Electrical vehicles eliminate all sorts of maintenance as they replace fuel and engine by electricity and motors. Due to absence of fuel, oil and power transmitting device it is clean and maintenance free. For better technology there are lots of investments in electrical vehicle manufacturing. The manufacturers of EV are bound to give better batteries and improved technology of charging. With all advantages, Electrical Vehicles are now at the door step followed by self-driving cars, solar powered vehicles.
Another emerging trend of Storage Batteries is because of renewable energy generation and electrical vehicles. The renewable energy generation sources such as wind and solar which are not available all the time, necessitates the need of energy storage. Also, electrical vehicle need batteries. A lot of research is going on across the world for better batteries and energy storage.
Wireless Power Transfer is another emerging trend in which power is transferred from source to load without connecting wires. To bring this primitive work into reality, a lot of work is being done. So very soon laptops, mobiles will be charged without connecting wires. The charging of electrical vehicles will be also wireless.
The new trends are also being observed in Lighting Technology. The light -emitting diode (LED) is one of the most rapidly developing energy efficient technologies. With the advantages such as durability and better light quality with reduction in electricity bills, LEDs have become very popular. With the advancement in technology they can be more efficient and easier to install. There are many other emerging trends such as internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics which have large number of applications in core area of electrical engineering and electrical engineers have to be literate in these fields too.
(Author is Assistant Professor from Department of Electrical Engineering of Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College which is constituent college of MGM University, Aurangabad.)