While federal policies may be executing a sharp turn with the advent of the Trump administration, electric sector research must stay the course, according to Michael Howard, president of the Electric Power Research Institute.
“Research is a long game,” Howard recently told the Energy Times in an exclusive interview in Washington. “Research can’t be bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball.”
EPRI is a research arm of 1,000 utilities, government agencies and corporations engage in electric power generation, delivery and use.
Michael Howard /// photo by Martin Rosenberg
Listen in to a conversation with Michael Howard, a featured offering of our new, wide-ranging ENERGY TALKS podcast series. Click here to listen.
Bill Gates and others have pointed out that electric utilities’ investment in R&D over the decades has been poor compared to other sectors, a shift may be underway. EPRI has seen an increase in research funding over the last eight years, Howard said.
The grid will continue to be modernized “in flight” – meaning, it is being upgraded even while it is up and running, he said.
Operations of nuclear and fossil fuel generation need to be upgraded, he added.
Important work is being done on distribution automation, power electronics, sensors, analytics and ever-increasing information integration.
“It’s about being able to able to model the system so we can predict the future,” Howard said. “The electrical system is the backbone of our energy system.”