Professor Lu Qiang was a renowned educator in electrical engineering, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Tsinghua University, and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Over several decades, he devoted his entire life to teaching and educating, becoming a revered figure in the hearts of Tsinghua students and faculty. He cultivated over 100 doctoral, master’s, and postdoctoral students in the field of electrical engineering, including numerous national-level leading talents and model workers. Professor Lu Qiang was also a globally recognized electrical engineering scientist and a pioneer and founder of nonlinear control in modern power systems, both nationally and internationally. He served as the chief scientist for China’s first Project 973 in the field of energy, making groundbreaking achievements in linear and nonlinear optimal control of power systems, prevention and control of power system disasters, digital power systems, compressed air energy storage, and more. He authored several significant academic works in both Chinese and English, leaving an indelible mark on the development of electrical science and the power industry in China. On December 23, 2022, Professor Lu Qiang passed away in Beijing at the age of 86. On the first anniversary of his passing, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Applied Electronics has compiled a collection of reminiscences from forty individuals, including his relatives, peers, students, and well-known figures in the industry, into a memorial book titled “Bright Moon Hanging in Sky and Sunset Glowing at Mountains: Memorial Collection for Academician Lu Qiang”. The collection has been published, and copies will be sent to Professor Lu’s relatives, students, and others. If you have had interactions with Professor Lu or are interested in learning about his life, please scan the QR code to provide your information, and a copy will be sent to you.
The following excerpts are taken from “Bright Moon Hanging in Sky and Sunset Glowing at Mountains: Memorial Collection for Academician Lu Qiang” on the occasion of the first anniversary of his passing.
Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
On December 23, 2022, my senior, comrade, and friend, Academician Lu Qiang, unfortunately passed away due to illness. Upon hearing this tragic news, I couldn’t help but feel profound sadness. Academician Lu Qiang was a leader in China’s power system discipline, a pioneer in nonlinear optimal control of power systems, and a trailblazer and guide in large-scale compressed air energy storage technology. I entered the Department of Electrical Engineering at Tsinghua University in 1959, and at that time, Academician Lu was already pursuing postgraduate studies. He excelled in both character and learning, serving as a role model for classmates. By the time I graduated in 1965, he had stayed on as a faculty member. From my student days until now, I have known and interacted with Academician Lu for nearly 60 years, forming a friendship that has withstood the test of time. In my heart, Academician Lu Qiang was an exceptionally charming, wise, and visionary scholar. He not only achieved globally recognized academic accomplishments but also made outstanding contributions to education and social progress.
Academician Lu Qiang was a person of noble character, extensive knowledge, lofty spirit, and high moral standards. He made significant contributions to the development of China’s energy and power industry, standing as an outstanding representative in the field. His passing is deeply regrettable, and I feel a profound sense of sorrow and loss. Let us inherit and carry forward his spirit and cause, making greater contributions to the development of China’s energy and power industry.
Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
Academician Lu Qiang and I were both members of the Southern Power Grid Expert Committee. Around 2000, during a meeting, he introduced the concept of a digital power system, elaborating on its main functions, the necessary foundational research, and how to implement it. Looking back now, this concept and idea are fundamentally discussions on smart grids and intelligent power systems that emerged later. In 2006, Europe proposed the vision of a smart grid, followed by the United States elevating it to a national strategy in 2009. In the same year, State Grid Corporation of China proposed comprehensive construction of a robust smart grid with ultra-high voltage power grids as the backbone. Southern Power Grid proposed the construction of a digital grid and the establishment of a new energy network with digital service capabilities.
In 2010, when North China Electric Power University applied for the State Key Laboratory of New Energy Power System, after drafting the initial application, Professors Li Chengrong, Cui Xiang, and Bi Tianshu came to the office of Academician Lu Qiang at Tsinghua to seek his opinions, especially on scientific issues and research directions. He not only gave full affirmation but also provided comprehensive guidance. Later, in the application submitted by our university, the scientific problems were essentially refined by him. The key concept was “analysis and control theory and methods for complex power systems with large time-scale coupling and strong randomness.” Academician Lu Qiang made a significant contribution to our university successfully obtaining the State Key Laboratory.
Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
Great scientists possess great personal character and ideals, with steps that never cease moving forward. In his academic and research work spanning more than half a century, Academician Lu Qiang achieved many groundbreaking results that attracted global attention. Beyond linear and nonlinear excitation control, his contributions extended to areas such as disaster prevention and control in power systems, digital power systems, and compressed air energy storage. He made indelible contributions to the development of electrical science and the power industry in China. Among these, what I believe best represents his scientific spirit and character is his three decades of research on excitation control. His innovation in nonlinear control theory and its application in power systems made China a leader and pioneer in the field globally. He truly became the trailblazer and founder of the discipline of nonlinear control in power systems, as internationally recognized. Throughout his life, Academician Lu Qiang, driven by his patriotic devotion, made tireless efforts for the scientific and industrial development of China’s energy and power technology, earning the respect and admiration of many. The journey and noble character of Academician Lu will continue to inspire us and countless future generations.
Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
On December 2 and 3, 2008, amidst his busy schedule, Professor Lu Qiang participated in a seminar on equipment technology development and engineering feasibility convened by relevant departments. After the meeting, Professor Lu learned that some individuals within the industry and government had not been paying much attention to this technology research and had no clear opinions. Feeling that, as an academician in the field of electrical engineering, he had a responsibility to report the breakthroughs in the development of this major equipment project to the highest central leadership, he requested national leaders to pay attention and provide support. Professor Lu obtained the agreement of four academicians in the field of electrical engineering — Cheng Shijie, Yan Luguang, Gu Guobiao, and Lei Qingquan. Personally drafting the letter, Professor Lu sent a unique communication channel letter to the central leaders. The letter first introduced this modern ship technology, one of the few high-tech equipment developments in China that had simultaneously evolved with the West. With fundamental, cutting-edge, and strategic system technology, it could not only ensure the smooth development of Chinese ships but also be applied in military and civilian fields such as weapons, aerospace, and trains. It was a strategic project beneficial to the country, the military, and the people, and hesitating or delaying would be a missed opportunity. He hoped that relevant departments would give sufficient attention and support. Professor Lu and others suggested that the nation should promptly initiate the project for engineering development. The central leadership reviewed the letter from the five academicians and forwarded it to relevant leaders, attracting attention from relevant departments.
Before the Spring Festival in 2013, Professor Lu Qiang was urgently notified to attend a technology achievement appraisal meeting for a major project at the Naval University of Engineering. He decisively canceled important schedule arrangements for his project team and rushed to Wuhan to serve as the chairman of the expert committee for our project’s achievements appraisal. Professor Lu Qiang, along with 40 academicians and over 100 experts from various disciplines across the country, gave very high praise for our research. Professor Lu Qiang hoped that the team would not disband and continue to strive for the application and promotion of achievements. He urged the leadership: “Decisions on scientific issues should listen to the opinions of scientists more, and the needs of combat equipment should listen to the voices of front-line combat forces!” Their appeal received high attention from the leadership of the Military Commission and the headquarters, bringing new opportunities to the team’s development and accelerating the breakthrough and transformation of China’s electromagnetic energy weapon equipment and future modes of warfare.
Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
I remember that in the 1980s, with everything reviving and spring thunder suddenly roaring, the giant ship of Professor Lu’s career, stranded for a decade, set sail again!
At that time, there were three families sharing a room at Tsinghua, striving to catch up with the brilliance of the stars. He often moved two stools out in the middle of the night, quietly living in the kitchen. With the tenacious figure accompanying the dim light, he derived formulas, ignited words, never donated efforts, and achieved success after hard work!
He pioneered the deep integration of power systems and modern control theory, opening a new chapter in the power industry: “Optimal Control of Transmission Systems”—opening up a new direction for the discipline! He successfully developed an optimal excitation controller, significantly increasing the generating capacity of units, benefiting the East!
Retired Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Former Vice President, The University of Hong Kong
Professor – a Tsinghua person, a world-class scholar, devoted his life to cutting-edge scientific research and education in the fields of power systems, power grids, and energy development. His teacher, himself, and his students, passing on the torch through several generations of efforts, persistence, for China, for engineering, for the global energy and environmental development, have made tremendous contributions.
Reflecting on the time spent with Professor Lu, I deeply feel his loyalty, humility, and willingness to help others. Using a line from the Song of Righteousness by Wen Tianxiang to express my admiration for Professor Lu: “Philosophers are already far away, their essence remains forever in the past.” Professor Lu is a true scholar nurtured by Chinese culture, with a sense of responsibility and conscience. As a contemporary and colleague, Professor Lu, in my mind, his accomplishments and virtues are not limited to the corner of electrical science.
Chairman and Party Secretary, China Huadian Corporation
Deeply commemorating Academician Lu Qiang:
Teaching with strictness, treating people with generosity, virtue and skills nurturing successors;
His image and demeanor are vivid, his spirit enduring, and his teachings forever remembered.
Professor, Department of Mathematics, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Professor Lu Qiang is a scholar who has achieved outstanding results in the fields of control and power systems. His thoughts and methods have not only had a profound impact on academic research but have also been widely promoted in practice. Professor Lu Qiang has made significant contributions to academic exchanges between China and Sweden. He has visited Sweden many times and is also a foreign academician of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. His passing has brought immeasurable loss to the academic community, but his academic thoughts and contributions will be forever remembered by us.
Researcher, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Although Professor Lu is well-versed in his field, he has tirelessly sought new knowledge throughout his life. One incident that deeply impressed me was in 2003 when Professor Lu attended a Sino-Swiss bilateral meeting with us in Sweden. When I was half-asleep on the plane, I opened my eyes to find Professor Lu opening a small notebook to learn English words. The fatigue of long-haul flights is well-known, and for a scholar of his stature to work so hard to study at that time is truly commendable. This experience made me truly understand the saying, “Mountains don’t refuse soil, so they can be high; seas don’t refuse water, so they can be deep.”
Party Secretary and Chairman, China National Salt Industry Corporation
I came to truly know and understand Professor Lu through the cooperation between the university and the enterprise based on the salt cavern compressed air energy storage technology. China National Salt Industry Corporation is a traditional salt industry enterprise. After years of development, the salt industry in China faced the problem of overcapacity. Relying solely on salt production and sales could not achieve further development, and the industry urgently needed an upgrade. In response, China National Salt Industry Corporation had been exploring how the salt industry could create new value in line with national strategic needs. The compressed air energy storage technology researched by Academician Lu Qiang’s team was highly compatible with the comprehensive utilization of salt cavern resources. In our view, it was a direction to innovate the value of the salt industry, and thus, cooperation with Professor Lu began.
Throughout the entire project, I deeply felt Professor Lu’s diligence and seriousness at work. Two incidents are particularly memorable. One was in December 2017 when the Jinshan Salt Cavern Compressed Air Energy Storage Power Station project had just started. We participated in the groundbreaking ceremony in Jinshan. It was midwinter, and the weather was extremely cold. Professor Lu, undeterred by the cold, wore light business attire and delivered a spirited speech. Another time was in September 2021, just before the compressed air energy storage power station was about to generate its first electricity. At that time, the COVID-19 epidemic was still in the development stage, and many places were under strict control. Professor Lu overcame various inconveniences and personally came to the Jinshan site to guide and witness the successful generation of the first unit of electricity for the energy storage power station. These details fully reflect his serious responsibility for work and deep affection for the cause.
Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Applied Electronics, Tsinghua University
In around April 1999, I was working in a laboratory at the University of Hong Kong when I suddenly received a call from Professor Lu Qiang in Beijing. He said that he had made a speech at the National People’s Congress in March, titled “Marching Westward”, which received high attention from the country. The nation was preparing to launch the “Development of the Western Regions” plan. He wanted me to return to the university quickly to participate in this work and prepare a specific project for a “Solar Desert Oasis Ecosystem”. I immediately returned to the school upon hearing this. Under Professor Lu’s leadership, we established a research group on “Solar Power Generation Applications” in the department. After working day and night, we improved and developed four key technologies, and from April 2000 to June 2001, Tsinghua University and Xinjiang Planning Commission jointly approved the project “Solar Desert Oasis Ecosystem in Pishan County, Xinjiang”. This project included the establishment of five solar-powered pumping and lighting comprehensive application systems to solve the problem of local residents not having used electricity for generations and not having access to clean water. The project was completed in June 2001, and the village bid farewell to the era without electricity, leaving behind the era of drinking “floodwater”. The success of the project had a great impact locally, in Xinjiang, and even nationally. The successful implementation of this demonstration project was entirely planned and led by Professor Lu. At that time, it was the first time in China to see the significance and application of photovoltaic power generation on such a scale. Professor Lu stood at the forefront of national development and made pioneering contributions to the subsequent development of new energy power generation, mainly photovoltaics.
Chairman of the Board, State Grid Fujian Electric Power Co., Ltd.
2007 is a year worth remembering. In that year, under the careful guidance of Professor Lu, I successfully defended my thesis. Of course, this was a significant event. But what I want to talk about is another thing.
That year, Shanghai Municipal People’s Government issued an announcement that in accordance with the requirements of the State Council’s “Overall Emergency Plan for Sudden Public Emergencies”, and considering the characteristics of Shanghai’s power grid being tight in the summer and frequent faults, Shanghai Municipal People’s Government hosted the largest-ever citywide emergency joint drill for sudden public power emergencies on June 20. It involved more than ten departments and industries, including the government, electricity, public security, finance, transportation, hospitals, shopping malls, communications, and factories. Such a large-scale drill, from my understanding at the time, was actually the first at the national level. Professor Lu was the head of the expert group for this drill, and as his student, I served as the on-site overall commander for the anti-accident drill in the power system. From the formulation of the plan to its implementation, as well as various considerations for details, Professor Lu gave meticulous guidance and provided a high-level evaluation at the end of the drill. Afterwards, Professor Lu and I were interviewed by various reporters together. The next morning, Shanghai People’s Broadcasting Station’s 990 Morning News program played the recording of Professor Lu and me being interviewed. Listening to this morning news program was a must for Shanghai people on their way to work. I was no exception, listening to it every day. After listening to the news, I received a congratulatory call from a leader at the East China Company, especially praising that “today, the entire Pujiang on both sides of the river is filled with the voices of you and your master”, expressing admiration. Sixteen years have passed, and many details of the drill have been forgotten. But every time I think of this, it makes me feel very warm. The sense of security with a teacher as a backing is rare in my career and difficult to express in words.
Later, we summarized the results of this anti-accident joint drill into the construction of the urban power grid disaster prevention and control system. In 2012, this project won the second prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award. Professor Lu deserves great credit.
Chief Data Scientist, State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company
After obtaining my doctorate, I did not engage in academic research but worked in technical and skilled positions at the grassroots level in the power supply for many years. The different nature of the work made me always feel a bit guilty about the many years of academic teachings from Professor Lu. Unexpectedly, in early 2014, when Professor Lu heard about my outstanding work at the grassroots level, he was very happy and even recorded two audio messages to give full affirmation. He said, “Having young talents rooted in the front line of production is not only not a light use of talent, but rather the right way to cultivate elite talents who can shoulder future responsibilities. It is conducive to the progress and development of science and technology and even more beneficial to promote communication and intersection between the academic and industrial circles”. This passage has inspired me to this day.
In April 2021, my senior brother Xia Deming and I arranged to visit Professor Lu in Beijing during the university’s anniversary. On that day, the elderly professor was in high spirits. When he heard that the three of us had successively received honors such as National Model Workers in the same year, he smiled and said, “Professors at Tsinghua training students who can produce three National Model Workers in the same year, I thinik I might be the first!”