Energy Central Power Perspectives™: Welcome Afshin Matin, New Expert in the Utility Management CommunityPosted to Energy Central in the Utility Management Group
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- Nov 12, 2020 3:30 pm GMTNov 12, 2020 3:38 pm GMT
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Leadership, experience, and an open-mind to new innovative ideas are going to be the cornerstone of the utility industry for the coming years, amid a transformation from a traditionally stagnant business sector to one that’s seeing changes in every corner. But as long as we have such strong leaders in positions to guide the management of utilities and the industry and markets as a whole, this evolution is going to be one of the most successful and fruitful eras in the sector’s history.
In the Utility Management community of Energy Central, these are the types of topics that are frequently shared, discussed, and debated? What are the best strategies moving forward? What should be the role of private vs. public intervention? How will utilities remain strong and vibrant in this changing environment? To provide insights to answering these questions, or at least doing our best to do so, Energy Central is always looking to add to our Network of Experts within the community, and today I have the pleasure of introducing the latest new expert: Afshin Matin.
Today, Afshin works as the Head of the System Integration Unit for Environment and Climate Change Canada, and he brings to that role three decades of experience in both private and public organizations in that utility space. It’s that vast and deep experience that uniquely positions Afshin to speak about what leadership can, should, and ultimately will do as the utilities continue on into unchartered water. And he was kind enough to offer us a peek into that vision via this entry in the Energy Central Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: We love providing these interviews as a way for you to introduce yourself to our community, so for the first question I’d love you to do just that! What’s your background in the energy sector and what is it you do today?
Afshin Matin: After my graduation with an M.Eng. degree in power systems and electrical machines from Imperial College UK with a thesis on transmission planning optimization methods, I started my career with a vertical power generation and transmission utility planning department. There was a large inventory of both transmission and generation projects, as proposed, that had to be optimized and verified for operable and reliable conditions (power flow, short circuit, and stability studies). After four years, I moved to sales engineering with ABB on transmission sales.
EHV substation equipment sales was my file, including all components such as power transformers, protection and control, communications, circuit breakers, etc. Client specifications had to be matched with the manufacturer and installer’s design of the substation followed by installation and commissioning. I was interfacing between factory engineers and clients’ approval engineers.
In National Energy Board, I was involved with assessment of power export applications and construction permits for international power lines which exposed me to the regulatory world. In Environment and Climate Change, I was involved with the regulation design for greenhouse gas emission standards for coal and natural gas-fired electricity generating units, and now involved with the modelling of the electricity system as related to GHG emission reductions and costing of system expansion scenarios. These activities primarily are in support of Canada’s 2030 Paris target, as well as achieving a net-zero GHG emissions in the electricity sector by 2050.
MC: After spending so much time as a power engineer across private and public organizations, what do you think has been the most surprising trend you? What’s happened that would have been the most unexpected to you at the beginning of your career?
AM: One that comes to mind is seeing the large changes that happened in the electricity market with new types of electricity producers and distributers operating in it, and away from central electric utilities. Another one was the fast-growing unreliable renewable generation connected to almost anywhere in the grid.
MC: In your role with the Canadian government working on climate and the environment, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect? Is it on the technology side to push the energy transition, the public acceptance and buy-in side, challenges in the market, or something else?
AM: For the Net-Zero target achievement, technology enablers seem to play a crucial role. CCUS, biofuels, SMRs, renewables, hydrogen, storage; all of these need to see more advanced capabilities in them, along with cost reductions in their operations, to make them suitable for a new decarbonized grid.
Market arrangements and government actions (regulations and funding support) play a very important role, as well, in incentivizing clean power solutions or creating prohibitions/disincentives for emissive solutions.
MC: What are some of the most interesting and compelling projects or efforts you’re working on these days? Can you tease us with anything to look forward to? What are you most excited about these days?
AM: The study of power systems at the federal level is something new to our operations. It used to be, for policy development purposes, focused on socio-economic analyses made by government on regular growth scenarios in the electricity system with conventional generation technologies that were firm and with high inertia. The decarbonization space creates fast growth in variable generation resources with associated decrease in system stability, necessitating more complex modelling techniques to produce appropriate policy advice for government.
MC: Can you share what it is about Energy Central that compelled you to get involved and integrated with the community? And what should community members look forward to you bringing to the table as our newest expert?
AM: The need for networking within power sector experts is at its peak, considering the multitude of energy system pathways to know about and to choose from, as policy in the next three decades. Energy Central seemed to me to provide a good hub to expand my network. I think I should bring a policy perspective on energy and electricity, but with a technical focus on grid operations as assisting the decarbonization process.
I’m looking forward to sharing with the experts in the utility sector and exchanging views.
Please join me in thanking Afshin Matin for joining our community as an expert and for diving into that role via this interview so the Utility Management Group can get to know him. If you’d like to ask him any questions, be sure to reach out to him via Energy Central and be on the lookout for his valuable content in our community!