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Texas A&M at Qatar workshop focuses on electrical power infrastructure in Qatar

Published Dec 31, 2019


A two-day workshop organized by electrical engineering faculty at Texas A&M University at Qatar brought together experts and practitioners from the United States, Europe and Qatar to focus on ensuring delivery of electric power in Qatar safely and reliably.

Presented in partnership with VITO Middle East and Energyville, with funding support from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), the Workshop on Safe and Reliable Electrical Distribution Systems for Qatar shared best practices, lessons learned and new technologies that are ready for application to enhance the safety and reliability of the electricity distribution systems in Qatar.

Dr. Robert S. Balog, workshop chair and associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, said that most of the electrical distribution system in Qatar is relatively new, certainly compared with U.S. and European systems where there are well-known problems due to the aging infrastructure. But as solar energy becomes more widespread and electric vehicles gain traction, what will happen here in Qatar when equipment ages or is pushed beyond its intended design?

The workshop aimed to leverage expertise at Texas A&M at Qatar and VITO to identify potential problems and develop paths and partnerships to form and implement Qatar-specific solutions.

“The concept of this workshop may seem unusual for a university,” Balog said. “The selected topics in this workshop represented technologies that have already been proven feasible and focused on the impact that these results could have on Qatar if these technologies were applied here. It is a shift from fundamental research to applied research and development, and means that we can implement solutions here much more quickly based on technologies that already exist. I am happy that we had great turnout from the local industry and vibrant discussion during the workshop.”

The event featured technologies that are part of ongoing research and development programs at Texas A&M at Qatar and VITO and that are ready for technology transfer and application in Qatar. Balog said that leveraging research investments from within and abroad, means that the workshop’s expected benefit to Qatar is a faster technology development path, enabling providers to implement solutions in a shorter timeframe.

However, Balog said, more work may be needed to customize these technologies into solutions specific for Qatar, thereby necessitating a research ecosystem built around technology transfer to industry and the design, development, deployment and service of these technologies.

“Highly skilled scientists, engineers and technicians are needed to design and use these systems,” Balog said, “which means that the systems also provide new test cases for students and researchers, building local human capital for the future. The workshop’s longer-term impact is to strengthen a designed-in-Qatar, designed-for-Qatar ecosystem.”

Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “Texas A&M at Qatar is proud to have a strong partnership with academic institutions and local industry, as well as several government entities. Our mission is to play a key role in creating sustainable solutions to real-world challenges by generating new knowledge through research and collaborative partnerships, and then disseminating that knowledge to the rest of the world through scientific publications and workshops such as this one. Texas A&M at Qatar is committed to expanding the human capital of the State of Qatar that is essential to fuel innovation and new thinking.”

Arnoud Lust, CEO of VITO Middle East, said, “We were impressed by the very open and active participation of the Qatari stakeholders, in particular Kahramaa, which shared the challenges and R&D priorities related to their electrical distribution system. As a research and service center specialized in applied research and development, we can contribute with solutions for load forecasting, congestion modeling, integration of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and the Tarsheed program results monitoring. We congratulate Texas A&M for the very professional organization of the workshop and look forward to future collaborations.”