Dr Nirmal Nair



Nirmal received his BE in Electrical Engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao University (M.S.U), Baroda, India. He completed his ME in Electrical Engineering with specialization in High Voltage Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India. After a decade of professional engineering and lecturing in India he moved to United States where he completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. During this period he also taught undergraduate papers in Computer Architecture and Foundation Course in Electrical Engineering. Thereafter in late 2004 he decided to move to New Zealand.

He has held several professional, teaching and research positions in India, USA and now in New Zealand. Presently, he is an Associate Professor at Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering of University of Auckland. His expertise involves smart grids, power system analysis, protective relaying & optimisation in the context of electricity markets and integration  of DG/renewable sources into electricity networks.  He serves in various capacities for IEEE New Zealand North Section, IEEE Power and Energy Society and is Secretary for CIGRE New Zealand National Committee. He is actively engaged towards University of Auckland’s outreach with power system stakeholders, internationally and in New Zealand across all sectors (generators, distributors, retailers, metering, transmission system operator, regulatory bodies, consultancies, vendors, Electricity Engineering Association etc).

His research interests span power systems in the context of protective relaying, electricity markets, voltage security, blackouts and resilience. His current focus is towards integration of distributed/renewable energy sources to New Zealand power system with emphasis on protection (IEC 61850, SPS, WAPS), economics (DSM, volatility),  innovations (Smart Grid, Storage, Large-scale EV & PV integration) and energy policy.


PhD, Electrical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA
Dissertation: Incorporating Voltage Security into the Planning, Operation and Monitoring of Restructured Electric Energy Markets.

ME, Electrical Engineering (High Voltage), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Thesis: New Signal Processing Approaches to Estimate the Mean Curve for Impulse Waveform Parameter Evaluation (gold medal).

BE, Electrical Engineering, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India
Project: Electrical Field Plotting using Numerical Methods.

Research | Current

  • Power System Protection (IEC 61850, SPS, WAPS)
  • Electricity Markets (Ancillary Services, Volatility, Demand Side Participation)
  • Smart Grids (Emphasis on Substation Automation, Smart-Metering, Protection and Control)
  • Integration of Renewable (Wind, Solar) and Distributed Generation into Power Systems
  • High-Energy Storage and Electric Vehicle impacts on Distribution Utilities

Research groups

Teaching | Current

  • ELECTENG 309 - Power Apparatus and Systems
  • ELECTENG 703 - Advanced Power Systems
  • ELECTENG 731 - Power Systems
  • ENERGY 722 - Energy Technology


2018: CIGRE Distinguished Member

2018: EEA 2018 Best Student Award Student for paper "'Investigating Travelling wave Fault Location Techniques for Distribution Assets'"

2017: EEA 2017 Best Paper "Assessing California's Distribution Resources Plan approach for NZ Distributors"

2017: Resilience to Nature's Challenge  "Electricity Distribution Resilienceinformed by West Coast Alpine Fault".

2017: Candidate IEEE PES Treasurer (2018-19) 

2016: Candidate IEEE Division VII (Power & Energy) Director Elect 2017 

2015: IEEE New Zealand North Section Power & Energy Society (PES) Chapter Outstanding Engineer Award

2014: IEEE Region 10 Outstanding Volunteer Award

2014: EEA 2014 Merit Paper Student Award Student for paper "Partial Discharge De-noising and localization algorithm using double-sided measurement and its implementation"

2013: IEEE Outstanding Branch Counsellor Award

2012: MBIE Prestigious funding of $6.3 million+GST over six years awarded for the project "Renewable Energy and Smart Grid". Power Systems Group (PSG) leads the UoA bid of this research.

2012: Andrew P. Sage Best Transactions Paper by the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society for the paper "Intelligent Decentralised Power Distribution Automation with IEC 61850, IEC 61499 and Holonic Control", published in IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics - Part C in 2011.

2012: IEEE Region10 Outstanding Student Branch Counsellor Award.

2011: Best student presentation award for work resulting from research during EEA APEX 11 Northern Summit.

2011: Faculty of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award.

2010: Best student presentation Award for work resulting from research during EEA APEX 10 Northern Summit.

2010-16: Selected to represent New Zealand as CIGRE B5 Observer Member (Protection & Automation).

2009: Architecture of SolarNetwork (John Gorman’s ME) won the 2009 SEANZ (Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand) award for Most Innovative Product or Service.

2007-09: Electricity Engineers Association (EEA) Best Student Paper won by group for three years in a row.

2004: First prize for "Voltage Security in Deregulated Electrical Energy Markets" in the Student Research week, Texas A&M University, TX, USA.

1998: Gold Medal for securing first position in M.E at Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore, India.

1999: M.E. Dissertation was nominated by the HV Department, IISc. for National Level Award.

1996-98: Scholarship from Ministry of Human Resources, Govt. of India, for M.E. at IISc., Bangalore, India.

1983: Indian Govt. Merit Certificate for outstanding performance in secondary school examination.

Peer-Esteem and Public Engagement

2019: New Zealand Herald  2017 Auckland Fuel  Disruption Inquiry report  picked up from Science Media

2019: Invited column Energy Transitions and Investment Trends

2018: Radio Live weekend wireless line up segment Carrington Event & Infrastructure Impacts

2018: TV1 Interview during Breakfast Program Can you use electricity from Lightning?

2018: Radio NZ viewer question segment One Quick Question

2018: Invited column Bitcoin, Cybersecurity, Electricity Resilience

2017: Timaru Herald article on Dropping hydro lake levels could see wholesale price rising

2017: The Press, Christchurch article on Research to examine aftermath of earthquake caused blackout

2017: New Zealand Herald article on Electricity Recovery during Alpine Fault Earthquake

2017: Invited column Climate Change, Carbon Policies and Education

2017: Invited column Mega Trends for New Zealand in 2037

2017: Invited column Global energy, Blackouts, Infrastructure Resilience, University business models and more

2016: Advisory Editorial Board Member for International Journal of Electrical Power & Energy Systems

2016: Invited column Benchmarking cities, Apple Energy, Bolivia's white gold, Blockchain and more

2016: Invited column Low carbon pathway, Investment supply, P2P for retail electricity and more

2015-16: Guest Editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery Issue on “Frontiers of Power System Protection”

2015: Invited column Tesla home battery, Smart Cities, Councils and more

2015: Invited column Renewables & Auckland, energy chattels , self driving cars,  future of universities

2015: Invited column Tertiary Education Trends, technology patent, energy snapshot & blackouts

2014: Vice-Chancellor's Lecture  Empowering Electricity Network Consumers through Smart Grid Technologies

2014Energy expert says Auckland's power network never likely to be 100% secure

2014: Invited column “State of Affairs: NZ Engineering Education & Global Smart Energy Innovation”.

2014: Editor of IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy.

2014: Elected as Secretary CIGRE NZ.

2014: Invited column on  “Energy and Emissions Stock-take: 2014”.

2013: “Can you imagine the Hibiscus Coast powered by Solar Panels and Electric Cars?”.

2013: Radio NZ interview resulting from Energy Policy paper on Solar Energy for Auckland

2013: Video Interview on Solar potential of Auckland and its future implications

2013: Expert Opinion on TVOne(NZ).

2013: Invited Café Scientifique presentation The empowered energy consumer  of the future-choice or confusion”.

2012: General Chair for IEEE POWERCON Conference to be held in Auckland, 30 Oct- 2 Nov, 2012  www.powercon2012.com.

2011: Counsellor, Auckland University IEEE Student Branch (SB) won Region 10 Best SB Award.

2010: Academic mentor of team ‘One Beep’ which won third place in 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup.



Areas of expertise

  • Electricity
  • Electrical power systems
  • Blackouts
  • Renewable energy integration
  • Smart Grid
  • Power system protection
  • Sustainability
  • Energy policy

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Professional affiliations

  • Senior Member IEEE, IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) Member
  • IEEE PES Governing Board Plus: Constitution & Bylaws Chair (2012- ), Nominations & Appointment Committee Member (2012-13), Long Range Planning Commitee Member (2014 - )
  • IEEE New Zealand North Section: Chair (2009-10), Student Branch Counsellor (2005- ), Student Activities Chair (2011-), PES/PELS Chapter Chair (2012- )
  • Executive Committee Member, CIGRE New Zealand National Committee (2008- ). Elected as Secretary in 2014
  • Representing NZ industry as CIGRE B5-Protection and Automation Observer Member in CIGRE International (2010-16)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sanjari, M. J., Gooi, H. B., & Nair, N.-K. C. (2019). Power generation forecast of hybrid PV-Wind System. IEEE Transcations on Sustainable Energy10.1109/TSTE.2019.2903900
  • Li, H. A., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). Blockchain-based microgrid market and trading mechanism. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8757870
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: HUAN Li
  • Saranchimeg, S., Sanjari, M. J., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). Toward a resilient network by optimal sizing of large scale PV power plant in microgrid-case study of Mongolia. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8757877
  • Al-Sachit, S. K., Sanjari, M. J., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). Fault detection in transmission lines- A novel voltage-based scheme for differential protection. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8758062
  • Shirzadi, S., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). Recovery plan for electric distribution networks under major impacts. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8757924
  • Bahadornejad, M., Merrington, N. R., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). An innovative method for re-setting over-current relays in active radial distribution system. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8758056
  • Maina, D. K., Sanjari, M. J., & Nair, N. K. C. (2018). Voltage and frequency response of small hydro power plant in grid connected and islanded mode. Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2018. 10.1109/AUPEC.2018.8757944
  • Verma, P., Patel, N., Nair, N.-K. C., & Brent, A. C. (2018). Improving the energy efficiency of the New Zealand economy: A policy comparison with other renewable-rich countries. ENERGY POLICY, 122, 506-517. 10.1016/j.enpol.2018.08.002


Contact details

Primary office location

BUILDING 903 - Bldg 903
Level 3, Room 358
New Zealand

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