on January 26th, 2024

Hailing from the second largest state in Australia, Queensland graduate of the 52859WA Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies, Arkadiy Matsekh elaborates on his successful project that changed the lives of his neighbors for the better. 

Matsekh completed his Graduate Certificate with the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) in 2021. His story is interesting because it involves innovative thinking in the field of renewables. 

On Record with A Genius: Arkadiy Matsekh 

Arkadiy Matsekh

Could you share your overall impressions of the 52859WA Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies and its impact on your career? 

The course helped me to get up to speed with modern renewable technologies, as well as close some knowledge gaps. This was important as I’d been slowly migrating from academia to industry. 

What motivated you to pursue this program with EIT?  

My primary motivation was to broaden my expertise in renewables, recognizing the imperative need for an energy transition to avert the threat of anthropogenic climate change.  

The alarming concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, largely attributed to burning fossil fuels for energy, urged me to act. I believed that acquiring an additional qualification would empower me to make a meaningful difference. 

Can you describe any key takeaways or skills that you acquired during the program that have proven valuable in your professional life? 

My main interests in the course were solar energy, closely followed by wind energy. However, my first significant consulting job in an engineering consulting business dealt with a hydropower generator.  

Even though my area of responsibility was the generator itself, a module in my course on hydropower came in handy. It helped me easily understand the terms used by my client and comprehend the constraints imposed on the generator by the scheme type, as well as the choice of prime mover type (the turbine). 

Have you applied the knowledge and skills you acquired in the program in your current work or in any specific projects related to renewable energy? 

Yes, I have utilized my understanding of hydropower. Additionally, I initiated a substantial community solar project that incorporated a peer-to-peer exchange of solar energy credits. What began as a volunteer initiative evolved into one of the research and development projects undertaken by my company. The solar billing techniques and methodologies discussed in one of the EIT course modules played a pivotal role in guiding me through the implementation and development of this system. 

Have you achieved any career goals owing to completing the Graduate Certificate?  

I have started my own engineering consultancy, Foucault Dynamics, and of course additional knowledge always comes in handy, while formal qualification certainly adds to your credibility.  

What inspired you to change the billing system of your housing complex’s embedded network and seek ways to account for the solar energy you were producing? 

My sense of fairness motivated me, I suppose. As conventional wisdom suggests, individuals in a privately-owned residential micro-grid in Australia, termed an “embedded network,” typically don’t receive a FIT (feed-in-tariff) for their solar export. In my view, this seemed very unfair.  

While it was (and often still is) true, it stemmed from the absence of tools and methods to track embedded solar generation. Australia tends to be somewhat outdated in embracing innovations in various management areas. 

Another incentive was straightforward: I identified an apparent solution to rectify this situation. It’s not a complex concept—certainly not akin to rocket science, quantum physics, or general relativity. Nevertheless, it took me some time to devise a suitable accounting model, considering the constraints of existing technological limitations. Several iterations were necessary to refine and perfect the solution. 

Can you elaborate on the administrative challenges you faced in implementing the new billing system, especially regarding the lack of procedures and misconceptions about the body corporate’s power? 

The system has essentially been set up in a way where a billing agent contractor company reads consumption data every quarter by sending an inspector for manual meter readings and then issues bills to residents in the complex. Initially, the billing company lacked tools to account for solar energy, and their immediate response was that it is impossible to track solar energy export in the embedded network.  

Despite this, they attentively considered their client’s needs, cooperated well, remained open to learning new things, and played a crucial role in implementing and maintaining the new billing system.  

Nevertheless, for many individuals residing in similar multi-owner dwellings, the status quo tends to prevail, as they lack control over how life is organized in their communities, leading them to simply go with the flow. 

How did you gain community approval for the new billing system, and what were the key considerations in presenting the detailed motion to the body corporate? 

I drafted a comprehensive motion and presented it during a general meeting. In my view, the critical factor was ensuring fairness – specifically, establishing a well-balanced internal “exchange rate” for solar energy.  

This approach aimed to provide fair compensation for solar energy exporters, while also offering sensible “community solar discounts” for non-solar users. The community was supportive, with an almost unanimous vote in favor. Subsequently, the energy accounting process has been formally incorporated into the by-laws of the body corporate. 

Looking ahead, you mentioned the potential move towards real-time meter readings for wiser energy consumption. Can you share your vision for this next step and how it aligns with encouraging residents to consume more solar energy? 

Real-time billing offers a departure from flat rate discounts and feed-in tariffs. With a sampling time of 5-10 minutes, we can precisely identify consumers of solar energy, allowing their tariff to be 35% cheaper for that specific interval. Conversely, those consuming energy at night would fairly pay the base tariff for their energy consumption.  

As individuals observe how their “solar discount” aligns with their energy usage patterns, they are likely to engage in the game of powering their homes with solar energy, a familiar concept for those with solar panels on their roofs. Additionally, real-time metering aids in aggregating the energy status of the micro-grid through an online dashboard or mobile app, offering micro-grid users’ insights into the grid’s energy availability.  

This mirrors the functionality of inverter applications on an individual house level but extends to the entire microgrid. 

Looking back, would you recommend this program to others interested in pursuing a career in renewable energy, and if so, what advice would you offer to prospective students? 

Ensure you take the advice from EIT, dedicating at least eight hours per week to self-learning, as the program encompasses a substantial amount of material within a relatively short timeframe.  

Maximize your engagement with assignments, as they offer valuable learning opportunities. Additionally, be prepared for challenging module exams. While the subject matter might come easily to some, the comprehensive coverage and lengthy duration of each exam (typically lasting 4 hours) can be mentally taxing.  

Brace yourself for a rigorous learning experience, as the effort invested ultimately proves worthwhile in the end! 

Engineering Institute of Technology