LUMS Energy Institute

The Energy Institute at LUMS serves as a think tank, center of technical excellence, knowledge network, and capacity building ground for the nation to institutionalize a renewable rich future for Pakistan in the most sustainable and cost-effective way possible.


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The main approach for this project it to match the demand of electricity with the available supply using techniques such as Intelligent Forecasting of both the demand and the supply and AI-based Demand Site Management system. This allows us to develop a relatively cheaper way to solve the energy problem and slowly shift towards renewable energy resolving the medium term and short term problems linked with wind and solar energy sources.

One major research project is introduction of electric vehicles in Pakistan. Due to high carbon emission of fossil fuel vehicles and high cost of importing fuel for such vehicles, the need of introducing an alternative is imperative. This project provides us with efficient policies to integrate electric vehicles in our transportation sector and locations for charging infrastructures. However, with the development of such stations, the demand of electricity further increase.

A number of research projects are under way in the institute including detection of non technical losses within the distribution system. One of the most harmful issue in Pakistan is the theft of electricity which causes a number of issues such as increased electricity prices, load shedding and circular debt. The technique used was to detect theft of electricity in Lahore, Punjab utilising the electricity consumption of randomly selected customers of LESCO. Further installation of AMI smart meters in suspicious households will allow us to monitor their activities more closely and reduce these losses.

Punjab has low hydro and wind potential but has tremendous opportunity to utilise their solar energy to fulfil the increasing demand of electricity. This research provides best locations to install utility-scale power plants as well as economical costs including capital, maintenance and operation cost for such plants. The main focus of this research was for solar power plants to provide at least 30% energy by 2030 to the province.

Due to excessive variation in the availability of renewable energy such as wind and solar, a solution is proposed in this research where scheduled loading shedding is introduced in industries with semi-flexible loads at demand site using AMI.

There is a worldwide focus on the electrification of developing regions, as is evident from the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. There are still more than 1 billion people worldwide with no access to electricity out of who over 30 million are in Pakistan. Our developed system allows peer-to-peer sharing of electricity along with integration/aggregation of solar generation in individual houses to be used for community applications on need-basis or in predefined scenarios. A communication layer overseas the local generation, local storage, entire bi-directional exchange of energy, and thresholds the power usage, as needed or subscribed. The possibility of electricity theft is negligible as every node is monitored through a central system. Further, ability to provide power for larger communal loads without the requirement for large dedicated generation is available through extracting the benefit of usage diversity.

The performance of solar PV systems are highly dependent on the irradiance profile (amount of sunlight), soiling, shading, temperature effects, module technology, inverter selection, string orientation etc. A major task for a PV system designer is to choose optimum technology and design the PV system to maximize the performance ratio (PR). For instance, up to 10% shade in a PV system may reduce the power output to 50%. Therefore, a major task in this area is to optimize system design in commercial and domestic setting. Our work includes using state-of-the-art softwares incorporating practical experience from over 800 kWp of solar installation at LUMS.

There is an increasing emphasis towards Green and Energy Efficient Buildings in recent years. According to the International Energy Agency, urban buildings consume more than 50 percent of the total consumed power. Therefore the emphasis of this research is to investigate efficient hybrid as well as LVDC only building level power architecture which can reduce local power losses significantly. This will allow efficient utilization of power and will in turn a) reduce consumer’s electricity bill and b) reduce the increasing burden on national grid due to urbanization. The surplus grid power (as a result of direct savings) can then be provided to industry as well as rural electrification which would contribute to the country’s GDP.

The performance of Lithium-based batteries in mobile phones is highly dependent on their usage profiles, among other factors such as aging, operating temperature, and internal defects. Since many applications and processes draw power from phone batteries in varied patterns, the usage patterns affect the life and performance of phones. This study will be collecting and evaluating battery discharge profiles under active phone operation to estimate the effects on remaining charge and the cycle life of phone batteries.

Work carried out on development of a RF-Mesh network with standardized protocol for a scalable solution that can be used in areas where a wireless sensor network is needed. This may be used in conjunction with a smart home automation and energy management system that may then be extended for integration with smart meters.

This was an industry academia collaboration project to introduce smart meters at LUMS for internal monitoring and control and carrying out studies on feasibility and potential benefits of smart meters and different smart metering infrastructures with specific focus on problems being faced in the local utilities distribution sector. Funding for this project was provided by Techlogix Pakistan Pvt. Ltd. (software services company), Microtech Industries Pvt. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Endowment fund at LUMS in renewable energy with support from Syed Bhais (meter manufacturers). A multi-vendor compliant MDM based prototype system was developed and deployed at LUMS. One key study targeted in this project was the use of smart meters to design load-shedding methodology without electricity outage in a multi meter vendor environment.

These were two foundation projects carried out for development of a solution in efficient utilization of solar energy. Solar Profiler work was on design and development of microcontroller based solar panel profiler to study the characteristics of solar panels that can also be used to generate temporal and geographical solar maps. Rural solar solution work was on design and implementation of an electronic MPPT charge controller and its use with a solar panel and inverter to provide a solar powered electrical solution for rural households.

These were a series of projects carried out to research the potential of solar thermal in generation of heat energy, mechanical energy and electrical energy. Scope of the projects was limited to generation of electricity and storage in DC battery bank using MPPT for optimization of collectors / turbine / generator / charge controller assembly. Conversion of collected heat was carried out using Stirling Engine.

The study included the detailed technical evaluation of feature set available in different products and utilization of each in monitoring and control of energy flow. Features studied included: compliance to local and international standards, alerts and notifications, data storage capability and modes of communication. Included in the study were a listing of features compliant with the international standards on how the data is transferred. The study also covered the software features for monitoring, reporting, aggregation and data analysis and factors for long term utilization of the system including scalability, extension and integration of software with other enterprise systems. Security features of the software and communication were also studied. Communication infrastructure that allows a range of possible modes of data exchange between the server and the meters was considered including a need to have a primary and secondary mode of data exchange to provide robustness and reliability. Different communication modes i.e. wired and wireless and in both, near field and far field, were also discussed as part of the study.

In this study we explored technical details of two most efficient lighting sources i.e. LEDs and Induction lamps. In the absence of an effective regulatory body, there is no check on the quality of products being brought into Pakistan markets in this vast and emerging technological area. The push for lower cost drives lower quality solutions being introduced in the local market without technical due-diligence. This has resulted in an influx of poor quality light sources where the electronics, luminaire and spectral considerations are not considered. We investigated the technical parameters such as power consumption, power factor, power quality, luminosity, color rendering index (CRI), color temperature, spectral analysis, flicker, emission angle and optimal operating conditions for characterization of different fixtures and conducted technical audit of some available products to confirm the claims of the vendors / manufacturers.

A detailed study on PV backup systems was performed with focus on emerging technologies in modern PV systems and a cost-benefit analysis on readily available systems. This technical study was conducted on readily available PV modules in Pakistan and their cost, efficiency and benefits. Characteristics of a PV cell is a function of solar insolation, temperature and cell area. The study incorporated irradiation levels and temperatures in various regions of the country, detailed analysis for various materials currently used for PV manufacture, mechanical aspects of PV panel such as glass covering for the cells and its effects on long term reliability of the panels. The adverse effects of partial shading on the output was considered and possible existing solutions analyzed. MPPT of individual panel in a multiple panel system can increase the overall efficiency and therefore was also analyzed. Stand-alone PV systems with inverter were included in the scope of this study and properties including high DC/AC conversion rate, low consumption without load, low frequency distortion, reduced weight and sizes and high reliability were considered. The optimal use of battery storage is a must in a PV system and several parameters in this regard were considered. These include round-trip energy efficiency, long cycle-life in frequent charge/discharge regimes, high resistance at high thermal excursions (0°C to 50°C), low auto-discharge, energy and power density, and requirement of maintenance processes for comparative analysis of different storage technologies.

The scope of the study included collection, heat storage medium, heat transfer mechanism and storage. We investigated the availability of suitable thermal collectors for generating low temperatures. we also focused on the availability and design of thermal collectors and concentrators for medium temperature processes. The possible integration of this collected energy with existing industrial processes was explored as a standalone system. The limitation factors such as availability of installation space (rooftops / ground), chances for heat recovery etc. were also evaluated. A survey of the existing local and international suppliers and vendors was also performed. Operational and maintenance requirements of the proposed solutions was also studied e.g. expected life span of various thermal reflectors and suitability of materials at different temperature levels.

In this study, technical analysis was done for the most frequent class of machines prevalent in the industry to outline design considerations for local manufacturing of VFDs. Most of these motors are operating in production processes and the parameters for reliability/efficiency of these drives to be benchmarked against international drives for similar motors was considered. As part of the study we outlined the design considerations for local manufacturing of VFDs and then worked on a prototype for a general-purpose motor prevalent in local industry as demonstration and for further investigation.

This project is on modeling and system design of a scalable HydroKinetics based generation of electricity from slow moving water sources (1-3 ms-1) abundant in irrigation canals. The primary use of the generated energy was targeted for automation of canal gates. The work includes design, simulation and construction of a prototype with storage in a battery bank used to drive canal gates with a dc motor for controlled discharge of water in the canal. Work has been partially funded by the Center for Water Informatics and Technology, LUMS and has been extended to cascaded multi-unit integration of hydrokinetics based systems for stand-alone microgrids. Other work in this area includes induction generator based micro-hydro systems for canal based water resources in lower KP region.

A series of projects were carried out through industrial grants and internal funding from LUMS on development of synchronized operation of VFDs for enhanced operational efficiency and improvement in power quality parameters. The work in this area resulted in filing of a US Provisional patent: Networked controller for both single and three-phase induction motor loads – 62084558. The sale of limited IP rights from the first power electronics startup at LUMS for IoT enabled conversion kit to operate traditional split air-conditioners as distributed HVAC environment through inverter-based operation was executed with a solar integrator Sunvolts Pvt. Ltd. for 2015-16. The work on these projects included:

  • Improvement in power factor by using out of phase operation of induction motors through IoT enabled VFDs.
  • Investigation of matrix-converter based phase controlled IoT enabled VFDs for improvement in power quality and power factor operation of multiple machines in an industrial setup.
  • Enhanced efficiency operation of IoT enabled synchronized VFDs in commercial setups.
  • Servomotor SVPWM drives for PMSM and Induction motors using field oriented control and direct torque control.
  • Electric vehicle drivetrain with regenerative braking using brushless dc machines and switched reluctance machines.

There is a series of projects with funding from the industry and other agencies on efficient power processing power electronics converter topologies. These converters focus on applications in grid-tying energy from renewables through converters and intelligent controllers that can optimize the use of electricity from renewables and control the flow for storage, use or feeding back into the grid. The range of projects span dc-dc conversion, ac-dc rectification, dc-ac inversion and ac-ac conversion in single and multiple stages. Following are some of the projects carried out in this area:

  • MIMO converters for integration of renewables: The work was carried out in multiple projects and thesis work on specific and scalable multiple input-multiple output converters for dc-dc and dc-ac conversion applications. Work in this area has been extended to multi-level inverters for different applications.
  • High density power converters: Work was carried out for IEEE-Google Littlebox challenge. The focus was on coming up with a new topology for high power density dc-ac inverter with focus of reduction of twice-the-line-frequency ripple for efficient power processing.
  • Solar microinverter and optimizer: The work was on development to different converters for direct dc-ac inversion with MPPT for grid-tied microinverter with a dual operation as a solar optimizer in developing countries with unstable grid.
  • Some work on inductive and capacitive wireless power transfer is ongoing for use in electric-vehicle infrastructure and low power applications.
  • Design and development of a 1000W solar charge controller: This was an industry sponsored project for a startup that was subsequently launched as PakShine. The product allows scalable integration of Solar panels to create a flexible solution for domestic consumers. The product has since been launched as a local industry.
  • Optimum Integration of Solar with existing UPS infrastructure with neighborhood level distributions: This project was sponsored by United States-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy, National University of Science and Technology (USPCAS-E, NUST) Campus. It involves design and development of a scalable solution for existing UPS systems to integrate solar PV based energy in a pseudo-hybrid conversion and allows multiple units to be integrated for neighborhood level integration. The project prototype has been successfully completed.
  • Design of new topologies for UPS systems: The work was sponsored by Schneider Electric and carried out at Colorado Power Electronics Center (CoPEC) in Summer 2017 on very high power density and high efficiency UPS system design for high frequency models with a goal of 70% reduction in volume. A new topology was developed which has since been filed for patent: US Provisional Patent: High Power Density Uninterruptible Power Supply Circuit and Related Techniques – 62/554,967.
  • DC and Hybrid Microgrids: A series of investigations and projects have been undertaken to evaluate and propose new architectures for beyond subsistence energy provisioning to rural communities which are poorly serviced or not serviced by existing grid infrastructure. The work includes in scientific evaluation of different architectures, control schemes for stable and efficient operation, hardware topologies for technology implementation and economic and policy provisioning to create an energy micro-economy.

Two separate projects were carried out to assess the noise levels and communication performance for standard NB-PLC technologies and Huawei BPL technology on LESCO LT distribution network.

  • The first project titled: “Measurement of noise levels in LT Distribution Network of LESCO to assess viability of Narrowband Over Power Line Communication” was sponsored by LESCO and done in collaboration with University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. The scope of work included measurements on the low tension (LT) distribution network and assess the feasibility of narrowband (NB) over power line carrier communication (PLC) for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) initiative. The noise on the network and the interconnectivity pose a challenge that has to be assessed in each environment. The noise is periodic, additive and although an instance of noise may be narrowband, the harmonics span the entire communication bandwidth due to slight variations in power line frequency. The project work was divided into two phases. Noise measurements on the power line were carried out in the first phase on a set of potentially challenging locations. The measurements were carried out for time domain and frequency domain analysis of noise characteristics in the frequency bands of interest. Based on the noise measurements, the trends in types of noise, periodicity and spectral distribution was used to determine network nodes especially prone to noise induced interference in propagated data. Some of the old sites and a few new sites were then visited for signal propagation characteristics. A total of 27 site visits allowed us to characterize both the noise and propagation of standard PLC signals on the distribution network.
  • The second project titled: “Feasibility Assessment and Testing of Huawei Broadband Power Line Carrier Communication (BPL) Modems on LT Distribution Network of LESCO” was sponsored by Huawei and done in collaboration with LESCO. One of the goals was to develop valuable insights on potential challenges specific to LT distribution network in Pakistan for Huawei to upgrade its communication technology and tweak its parameters for local environment. The project work was a technical continuation of the earlier project done to assess the feasibility of NB-PLC communication on the LT distribution network. Although the signals of interest at higher frequencies of BPL technologies are considered to be confined within the power lines, the measurement of radiated EMI is considered essential for BPL based communication infrastructure. The measurements carried out in this project comprised of noise measurements to assess the ambient state of the network and propagation characteristics to assess the performance of modems under test. The noise on the network is not governed by the device under test but allows establishment of a baseline state of the network for comparison with environments in other countries where BPL technology is deployed. Signal propagation characteristics were measured at all of the sites where noise measurements were carried out. Standard Huawei BPL modems were used for this testing with enhanced data capture capabilities to inject and receive signals to ascertain the quality, speed and maximum distance for successful communication between two nodes with and without the repeater modules. The parameters observed included signal to noise ratio (SNR), received signal strength indication (RSSI), packet error rate and effective data communication rate. A total of 15 sites were identified and visited.

This project was done jointly by the Electrical Engineering and Economics Department at LUMS and sponsored by the International Growth Center (IGC). There are two components to this study, namely: a) technical design and costing, and b) estimating demand for solar services in pilot rural areas. A major part of the work was to conduct surveys in neighboring electrified and non-electrified regions to assess variation in ‘willingness to pay’ for consumers. Report on the project has since been published.

There have been multiple consultancy engagements with the software, electronics manufacturing and process industry. The work done on different threads includes engagement with:

  • Techlogix Pakistan Pvt. Ltd.: The scope of work was related to software development office setup in Beijing China where operations were to be managed. This was in continuation of the work done in the software industry on enterprise software applications and setup and operation of offshore development centers in Pakistan and China for work done with clients in US, Europe, Middle-East, Pakistan and China.
  • Microtech Industries Pvt. Ltd.: The scope of work included 9-month long discussions on technical and business process evolution for work in the electronics manufacturing and associated software systems. The discussions were centered around right structuring of the organization based on the size of operations and technology footprint evolution.
  • Tripak Films Ltd.: The scope of work included understanding of issues with a 350kW IGBT based variable frequency drive in the hot and humid Karachi environment.

This project was initiated by Sozo Group of Companies to develop Lithium-Ion based storage solutions for the local market. The work is being pursued under the Higher Education Commission Technology Development Fund (HEC-TDF) initiative. The work includes design and development of technology for the following market segments:

  • Solar PV Storage
  • Backup storage systems for UPS
  • Backup storage systems for telecommunication towers
  • Backup storage systems for distribution grid stations
  • Automobile battery systems