Reflections from the Grid Reliability and Utility Operations Conference 2020

Imad Ahmed, senior economist, Vivid Economics, UK

“The most significant discussions that took place at the conference were on the impacts of lack of grid reliability and mechanisms for better customer and utility accountability. I appreciated the fact that, given we were discussing power quality in a developing country context, the discussions did not take the tone that it was developing countries' responsibility to figure out how to deliver reliable AND carbon neutral energy. 

"I have incorporated some of the points made into my PhD literature review.  The question and answer session after my presentation also brought to light a couple of issues I should address in my dissertation. 

"The networking  was very useful. The week after the conference, I submitted a bid with one of the consulting firms. I am scoping out a PhD proposal for one of my research colleagues with IGC Ghana. And I am in touch with a number of people from the conference for future collaborations." 

Badri Nath Baral, director, Winrock International, Nepal

“A lot of significant issues and challenges were discussed during the two days of the conference. I found the discussion on enhancing participation of women in the energy sector, the cost of unreliable electricity to the economy and livelihood of developing countries and measures to reform utility and service delivery highly significant.

“Many low-income countries in the world have made progress in terms of providing electricity access. The quality and reliability of electricity, however, is still not convincing in many such countries. In this respect, quality research to identify underlying causes and potential solutions is highly required. Research plays a huge role in identifying problems and recommending possible measures to overcome them. Lessons learned from research in one place can provide important knowledge for tackling issues emerging in another place of a similar setting.

“In our research, we studied voltage issues by asking the individual respondent about the number of voltage fluctuations per day/week/month. Low cost voltage monitoring technology that was used by some researchers could have been used in our study too. That is something we would like to adopt in future research.

“It was certainly very useful to bring experts, practitioners and policy makers together to discuss the issues that are important to all. Researchers conduct research so that lessons can be translated into real life. So the conference provided a platform for experts to showcase findings that could be utilized by practitioners and policy makers.”

Daniela Salite, postdoctoral research associate, University of York, UK, and visiting researcher, University of Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique

"The conference was a great opportunity for networking with people from diverse countries, backgrounds, and expertise in the energy sector, and to learn how these experts are looking at the grid reliability issues from diverse perspectives. Both days were filled with interesting and significant topics. The Q&A sessions took the presentations to the next level of clarity, and also not to forget the brilliant role that the conference moderator played throughout the process.

"A comprehensive analysis of the reasons behind the massive and long-lasting issues related to grid reliability and the quality of electricity supplied is needed, as well as regarding why most countries are yet struggling to mitigate these issues. I believe that without delving in-depth into the causes, and without understanding them, we will continue not seeing palpable actions being implemented at top levels and will increasingly keep discussing about the impacts on consumers and the economy.

"So, my question is what is next after the conference? How will the existing research be translated into action? How will researchers liaise with the electricity supply companies and policy-makers to make their research known and implemented to contribute to the much needed positive and fast changes in the reliability and quality of electricity supplied?"