Speaker Interview – Anil Tuladhar, Rhombus Energy

This time we are interviewing Anil Tuladhar, vice president of engineering at Rhombus Energy, who will be presenting a talk on managing grid power quality issues arising from increased energy demands and renewable power source injections. With his 22 years of experience we are keen to get his opinion on what technologies will impact the industry and where he sees opportunities for growth.

The owner of more than 7 patents, Tuladhar has previously worked in embedded power electronics and controls for Statpower, Ford Electric Vehicles, Ballard Power Systems, Siemens VDO and Continental Automotive. Tuladhar has also published numerous IEEE papers and teaches power electronics at Universities in the Detroit area.

Please tell us about your role at Rhombus Energy. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

I lead Rhombus’s hardware and software product engineering development activities. I am also responsible for the research and development effort in advanced power conversion technologies for energy storage and test equipment product lines. Finally, in addition to executing the inverter technology platforms, I define the algorithms and controls that help Rhombus products meet emerging and future regulatory requirements.

What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities the industry faces at present?

The key challenges lie in keeping pace with the changing regulatory standards, rapidly evolving technologies in emerging industries, and developing a power conversion system which is agnostic to battery chemistries while keeping the cost reasonable.

One emerging opportunity is the ability of an energy storage system to augment intermittent renewable sources, such as solar and wind. This helps improve grid stability by rapidly responding to power demand. Another emerging opportunity is in battery and generator test area.  Environmental concerns are creating a demand for regenerative load banks, which, unlike conventional load banks, recover more than 90 percent of the power that is otherwise wasted.

In terms of industry news, what development, announcement, or otherwise has stood out most to you in 2016?

The news of California’s Self Generation Incentive Plan will have similar impacts on Energy Storage as did the incentives on Solar. The release of UL1741 Supplement A (SA) and the update to California Rule 21 in 2016 will also have a cascading effect on inverter manufacturers as they must now certify or re-certify to the new standard by September 2017 in order to sell in to California. 

You have over 22 years of advanced power converter controls and embedded software expertise, what has been your biggest personal achievement in your career?

On the business front, I was a key co-founder to the successful launch of the Energy Development Associates (EDA) in 2010. With its high growth potential, it allowed for a strategic acquisition under Rhombus in 2015. On the technology front, my biggest personal achievement is my latest patent on power multiplexer. This technology allows a single DC source to generate multiple, isolated, phase-shifted, AC voltages which can be added in any desired way to get higher AC voltages. It enables connecting a DC source with a voltage as low as 400V to a 480V grid without a transformer. This new technology has a potential to revolutionize the renewable energy and energy storage market.  

Which technologies do you think will impact your industry in the near term? And longer term, which technologies will prove influential?

Technologies employing Wide Bandgap devices such as SiC and GaN have continued to improve their performance in heat dissipation, power density, and reliability. Once their price points become competitive with traditional silicon switching devices, I expect these technologies to generate widespread use of energy storage systems. In the long term, medium voltage, transformer-less, power conversion technologies can significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of an energy storage system.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Buyers Forum @ Critical Power Expo, can you tell us what you’re most looking forward to at the show?

The Critical Power Expo has been a major technology and industry information source as well as an opportunity in making connections with potential customers and exposure to a wide variety of component suppliers and manufacturers.  With past exhibitions under EDA in 2010 and 2013, under Rhombus in 2016 and being local to the Detroit area, we are looking forward to witnessing the growth with increased participants and exhibitors, making new connections and re-connecting with customers and colleagues. 

You can see Anil Tuladhar's talk at September's Critical Power Expo. For a full list of speakers, click here.

Click here for the full Critical Power Expo exhibitor list.