Professor Raj Naidoo completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town in 2008 and has been doing research at the University of Pretoria (UP) since 2002.
Prof Naidoo leads smart grids research at UP and works closely with other members of the Power Group, which focuses on integrating renewable energy generation such as wind or photovoltaic power into traditional grids, and reducing inefficiency and emissions. This is at all levels, from small energy sources like a home photovoltaic cell to large sources like a wind energy farm.
He says his research allows him to help solve some of the world’s energy problems. “I’m also stimulated in my quest to solve problems and challenge myself in new ways,” Prof Naidoo says. “UP has world-class researchers and infrastructure, and it is a natural alignment for me to do my research at there.”
Some of the practical applications and opportunities for his research include renewable energy integration, energy management and advanced distribution management systems. UP’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, which Prof Naidoo heads, works closely with the South African National Energy Development Institute, Rand Water and the Department of Energy. The Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering has established strong ties with the local municipality of the City of Tshwane. Together with these partners, Prof Naidoo and his team are paving the way for new approaches to solving Africa’s energy crisis.
His research matters because his department is helping to make the national grid safer, more stable and more efficient, guiding the integration of sustainable energy sources and improving the data available to engineers working on the grid. “Our research is also improving energy efficiency and reducing waste in homes, buildings and factories around South Africa and Africa,” he says. Discussions aimed at collaboration with various faculties are underway.
A recent highlight for Prof Naidoo has been the pioneering of research in smart electrical asset management. “Our research involves the application of smart grid technologies to improve asset management for utilities.”
Prof Naidoo is inspired by Albert Einstein, particularly his ability to derive the theory of relativity from first principles. He also admires Tesla’s work in reshaping various sectors.
Prof Naidoo hopes to create technology that will power sustainable communities in Africa, given that electricity is a challenge for many on the continent.
To school learners or undergraduates who have an interest in solving the world’s energy crisis, he says electrical engineering is for them.
In his spare time, Prof Naidoo enjoys watching and playing football, hiking and being involved in product development.