University of Exeter funding: Development of reliable active netw

Development of reliable active network Management System - PhD Renewable Energy (funded) Ref: 3913

About the award

This 3 year PhD studentship is funded through the Royal Academy of Engineering as part of a collaborative research project under the Global Challenge Research Fund, Frontiers of Engineering Follow-on. The project is titles “Socio-technical assessment for resilient electricity networks in rural Africa – STARENA” and is carried out in collaboration with partners in South Africa. The studentship will run alongside and support the project with the aim to leverage current energy developments in rural communities in South Africa by incorporating social complexities and modern grid control technologies in the design, implementation and operational phase of solar energy generation and rural grid connection projects.
Details of the associated research project can be found here.

Microgrids are seen as the backbone for electrifying rural areas in developing countries. However, the provision of affordable power to meet all types of load from small-scale isolated microgrids is still far below the level achieved by large utility grids. Microgrids lack both economies of scale and the portfolio benefits of larger systems incorporating a range of complementary energy resources. Consequently, services tend to be more expensive than those supplied through conventional, utility-scale models. Further, supply from small-scale microgrids is often available for only a few hours per day and is often inadequate to provide more than the most basic services such as lighting.

This project proposes a radical new vision for the future of rural electrification by interconnecting microgrids together and to main grid systems as and when connection becomes available. The result will be larger, more reliable and more resilient rural power networks, with an increased average supply duration. These systems will be able to integrate a greater proportion of renewable energy and offer increased affordability and access to energy. This new paradigm, however, raises a number of technical and socio-economic challenges. On the technical side, the new arrangement can lead to undesirable dynamic behaviours and instabilities due to interactions between inter-connected networks. On the socio-economic side, connection of microgrids has the potential to throw up substantive issues relating to investment certainty and consumer protection. The project will carry out both fundamental and applied research to tackle the above issues.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and details of two academic referees. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project. 


Application deadline:12th June 2020
Number of awards:1
Value:£15,285 GBP
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions