EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks at The University of Manchester

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Rapid transformation of Power Networks is only possible if industry can recruit highly trained individuals with the skills to engage in R&D that will drive innovation. The EPSRC CDT in Power Networks at the University of Manchester will educate and train high quality PhD students with the technical, scientific, managerial and personal skills needed by the Power Networks sector. Prof. Peter Crossley, whose experience includes leadership of the Joule Centre, will lead the CDT.
This CDT is multidisciplinary with PhD students located in the Faculties of Engineering & Physical Science and Humanities. All students will first register on a "Power Networks" Postgraduate Diploma; when successfully completed, students will transfer to a PhD degree and their research will be undertaken in one or more Schools within these Faculties. During their PhD studies, students will also be required to expand their knowledge in topics related to the management, design and operation of power networks. Using the support of our industrial partners, students will engage in policy debates, deliver research presentations, undertake outreach activities and further their career development via internships.

The CDT will deliver world class research and training, focused on the UK's need to transform conventional power networks into flexible smart grids that reliably, efficiently and economically transport low-carbon electrical energy from generators to consumers. Specific areas of research are:

- Electrical power network design, operation and management
The rapidly increasing need to integrate renewable energy into power networks poses numerous challenges, particularly cyclical and stochastic intermittency. This is further complicated by future proof buildings, decarbonisation of heat and transport, and other innovations that will change electrical demand.
Existing Power Networks include a mixture of old and new plant, some of which is beyond design life. This may not be a problem at historical loading levels, but future visions involve increased power densities and changes in primary and secondary substation topology. Research on asset management and life-time extension is required to provide economical and reliable solutions to these issues.
Integration of DC interties and Power Electronics within networks has been identified as key enabling technologies. Therefore projects on HVDC, power electronics, intermittent generation, energy storage, dynamic demand, intelligent protection and control and the use of data provided by smart meters and local/wide-area monitoring systems are required.

- Power Network Operation, Planning and Governance
Transmission and Distribution Operating Companies need projects on planning processes that co-ordinates land-use with other infrastructures. Projects include planning uncertainty and complexity, integration of modelling with geographical information systems, stakeholder behaviour, decision modelling and the impact of resource allocation and operating lifecycles.
Projects on smart operational control strategies can simplify network planning and reduce the cost of implementing: demand response; combined heat and power; and district heating.

- Changes to the pattern of energy demands and their effect on the power network
Climate change will have an adverse effect on network reliability and projects are required to help network companies economically manage the electrification of heating, cooling and transport. Projects are also required on the interaction between energy vectors and network infrastructure with multiple uncertainties.

- Cross cutting technologies
Research in Mathematics and Management on stochastic dynamic optimisation techniques can be used to underpin projects on heat and electrical energy storage under uncertain price and supply conditions.
Projects using a cognitive lens to uncover how large infrastructure projects can be delivered through meta-organisations are also required.

Planned Impact

This proposal describes an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks at The University of Manchester. It builds on current capability and capacity, and existing collaborations with industry and Greater Manchester, to deliver high quality doctoral graduates.

- Academic impact
The CDT will involve collaborations between engineers, physical and social scientists, and mathematicians. Each student will have a main-supervisor who is a specialist in their PhD field and a co-supervisor from the wider discipline group. Graduates, from this CDT, will form part of the pool from which future academics are drawn.
Power Networks sits within the wider EPSRC energy theme and the CDT will encourage PhD students to take an active part in: EPSRC consortia, Grand Challenges and the Energy CDT Network.

- Economic Impact
The multidisciplinary perspective of the CDT will create a highly skilled workforce that recognises the social, technical and political pressures on Power Networks. They will enhance the value chain of organisations involved in Power Networks.
This CDT will operate as an open innovation forum between all the partners and encourage collaborative working at partner, student and supervisor level. Professional expertise in intellectual property management will be provided by the University's technology transfer company UMI3.

- Wider Society and the public understanding of the science agenda
All students will play an active part in promoting the wider STEM agenda. Manchester's status as a DECC Low Carbon Hub provides a route to engage with the residents of Greater Manchester in the deployment of research outcomes. The CDT Director is a member of the Greater Manchester Energy Strategy Group which oversees these activities.
Research outcomes will be made available in a form suitable for the general public via the Manchester CDT website and press releases.

- How will impact be achieved
Training activities will be tailored to foster communication skills to translate complex technical and economic ideas to a wide audience. Non-industry outreach and engagement activities will include Café Scientifique events, policy briefings and seminars, and public forums and debates.
All of these events will be designed to provide two-way knowledge exchange to inform research activities and ensure research findings are socially relevant.


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