How Would Electricity Grids Look Like if we Restarted from Scratch?

Prof. François Bouffard


The ways electricity is produced and consumed are changing at an extraordinary pace in comparison to the rate at which electricity networks can evolve. At the same time, network design approaches and technologies are artifacts of engineering decisions taken under vastly different sets of assumptions. The most potent example of such an artifact is the assumption that all generation involves some kind of rotating mass turning at synchronous speed. If now we were to reset our assumption base and redesign transmission and distribution networks from scratch, how would they look like (in terms of topology, ratings, etc.)? How would they be controlled? The answers to these questions could serve industry well by providing upper bounds on the performance of network designs. Moreover, they could provide guides for migrating our current networks towards better performing ones. In this talk, we will outline some of our initial findings and plans to address these questions.

Speaker Bio

Dr. François Bouffard is Associate Professor, William Dawson Scholar and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada. He is also the John M. Bishop and Family Faculty Scholar in Sustainability in Engineering and Design. He received the B.Eng. (Hons.) and the Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering in 2000 and 2006, respectively, also from McGill. From 2006 to 2010, he held a lectureship in electric power and energy with the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom, before joining McGill in 2010. His research and teaching expertise are in the fields of low-carbon power and energy system modeling, economics, reliability, control and optimization. He is a licensed engineer in the province of Quebec, Canada, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES). He served on the Editorial Board of the IEEE Transactions on Power Systems (2009-2018) and of the IEEE Power Engineering Letters (2012-2018), and he served as Technical Committee Program Chair (2016-2019) and as Secretary (2020-present) of the Power System Operation, Planning and Economics committee of IEEE PES. Since 2019, he has been serving as Strategic Advisor to the board of directors of Brainbox AI Inc.