Award details

Flexible Distributed Networked Control and Data Analytics for Stochastic Renewable Energy Driven Futuristic Smart Grids, Mathematics–PhD (Funded) Ref: 3160

About the award


Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology, in any of the disciplines – Mathematics/Statistics, Computer Science, Engineering, Physical and Environmental Sciences. Good analytical, computational skills and prior experience in Matlab/Simulink and Python/R programming is necessary. Some prior research experience in data analytics, mathematical/statistical computing is also desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see


The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover full tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student will be based in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.


Department of Mathematics, Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Cornwall TR10 9FE

Academic Supervisors:

Dr. Saptarshi Das, University of Exeter (
Professor Stuart Townley, University of Exeter (

Project Description:
The futuristic vision of smart grid technology aims to integrate more renewable energy resources in traditional power networks in place of fossil fuels. This creates immense challenge for interoperability in wide-area monitoring, state estimation, control and optimisation of future power networks, not only at the component level, but also from communication, information, functional and business aspects. For increased flexibility and robustness of present day grid frequency/voltage control methods, there needs to be a dramatic change in the underlying mathematical principles to model and characterise the dynamical behaviour of such complex systems. This will allow moving towards a smarter power network where information and communication technologies will play a central role in the conventional active/reactive power flow control. This includes integration of generation/load and forecast data in the control algorithms to frame an adaptive yet robust strategy, efficient management of grid-connected devices or the “internet of things”, tackling cybersecurity and extreme event challenges, damping the stochastic fluctuations due to uncertain renewable energy sources as well as load profiles. The aim of this PhD project is to develop new mathematical methods for modelling/control and apply advanced data analytics techniques for efficient management of smart grids with renewable energy and storage elements. Complex cyber-physical model based distributed intelligent multi-agent strategies will allow flexible control of grid frequency/voltage.

There were recent attempts to develop conceptual models and architectural standards e.g. smart grid architecture model, National Institute of Standards and Technology and IEEE 2030-2011 standard model. However, a mathematical analogue of such conceptual models in the form of large interconnected complex cyber-physical systems, with hybrid/switched dynamics, needs to be developed first to analyse the grid stability, efficient power flow management, optimization, control and assess other risk factors. This PhD project will make use of existing concepts from distributed multi-agent intelligent control, state estimation, stochastic, adaptive, robust fault tolerant, networked control and related systems and control theories to find a right combination of these for greater grid resilience in fluctuating environments due to high penetration of renewable energies and non-stationary load profiles. The first supervisors earlier works in the area of smart grid controls have used interconnected dynamic models for studying grid frequency oscillation damping which will be extended in this PhD project, by including the potential effects of arbitrary number of plug-in electric vehicles, distributed generation and storage elements with different generation patterns and finally developing joint grid frequency and voltage control schemes. The PhD student will contribute to the fundamental systems and control theory for component level modelling of a hybrid power networks or smart grids, considering the communication, information, functional and business objectives into the control algorithms. The models will be validated through various mathematical analysis tools for robust stability and also quantify the achievable control performances through cyber-physical system simulations to better understand the overall statistical characteristics of such complex power networks while making use of existing benchmark power-systems simulation models for coupled voltage/frequency control. The inevitable conflicts amongst such many control objectives, role of selecting observables and impact of choosing one class of control algorithm over the others will also be investigated in this PhD project. This PhD project will contribute to strengthen the collaboration between the Mathematics and Renewable Energy Departments at the Exeter Penryn Campus to help other related project development and industrial collaborations in this area.

This award provides annual funding to cover full tuition fees and a tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend. 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018.

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English

The closing date for applications is midnight on 08 June 2018. Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Penryn Campus date TBC.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:8th June 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:£14,777 for 3.5 yrs
Duration of award:per year
Contact: EMPS PGR Support +44 (0)1392 722730/5150