PhD Research Project: Optimization and Control for Power Networks
Optimization and control are instrumental in the planning and operation of modern power networks. For example, the problem of how to set the power supply from generators to meet the current demand from the network is a non-linear programming problem, while that of planning how to schedule the generators in the near future, so the demand forecast is met, is routinely cast as a mixed integer problem.
The underpinning constraint in all such problems is that supply must balance demand, since energy storage in any network is negligible. If supply does not match demand, then frequencies and voltages in the network drift and may reach unacceptable levels, leading to equipment damage, cascading failures and wide-area blackouts. So having supply match demand may also be seen as a control problem: how should generators, loads and other components be controlled so as to keep voltages and frequencies stable and within limits?
The deterministic case - when the current and future demand is known - is not so difficult. But demand is naturally uncertain; trends of hour-by-hour, day-by-day, month-by-month electricity are known, but exact levels depend on numerous factors. Furthermore, the de-regulation of power networks and the increasing penetration of distributed generation (e.g. wind and solar power) mean that uncertainty is increasing and security margins are decreasing.
Prospective candidates should have a good first degree (I or II.i) and/or Masters degree in a mathematical or engineering-related subject. A background in control/systems theory, optimization, operational research, and/or electrical engineering is desirable. Competence in MATLAB is essential.
Applicants can apply for a Scholarship from the University of Sheffield but should note that competition for these Scholarships is highly competitive. it will be possible to make Scholarship applications from the Autumn with a strict deadline in late January/early February. Specific information will appear: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/acse/research-degrees/scholarships
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