Protection System and HVDC Converter Control Interaction
Genk, BE
18 uur geleden


The Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) at KU Leuven and the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh are looking for an outstanding PhD student to work on a funded research position.

The project will be supported by both the towards HVDC grids research team at the division ELECTA of KU Leuven and the Electrical Power Conversion group within the Institute for Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh.

The project will focus on research that aims to remove boundaries towards the transition to future renewable energy dominated power systems that make extensive use of HVDC technology.

The PhD falls within the KU Leuven University of Edinburgh partnership program, meaning that the degree will be jointly awarded by KU Leuven and the University of Edinburgh.

The research will primarily be performed at KU Leuven, with two research visits of 6 months at the University of Edinburgh.

The promotors of the work will be Associate Professor Dirk Van Hertem (KUL) and Dr. Paul Judge (UoE).

The division ELECTA of the Electrical Engineering Department (ESAT) of KU Leuven covers the broad spectrum of electrical energy systems and robust control of industrial systems.

The development of the future smart grid is the key activity. As one of the largest research groups on electrical energy systems in the Benelux, ELECTA is recognized as a center-of-excellence on these topics, where fundamental research is combined with immediately and prospectively applicable solutions for the industry.

Alongside this development of know-how, it is important is to share gained knowledge with the academic community, students, industry and the society as a whole.

ELECTA is also co-founder of the knowledge center EnergyVille together with VITO, Imec and UHasselt. The work location is the EnergyVille Campus in Genk / Belgium.

The Electrical Power Conversion group operates within the Institute for Energy Systems (IES), at the School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh.

The team currently has 8 academics, including 3 Professors. The power electronics activity within the group was established by the appointment of Prof.

Stephen Finney and Dr Michael Merlin in 2017, followed by the appointment of Dr Paul Judge in 2020. This group brings a track record across a broad range of power electronic applications including grid interface, HVDC / MVDC power networks, and semiconductor devices.

The team has over 51 years’ experience of academic / translational power electronic research and has authored over 20 IEEE Journal Transactions since 2017.

The group currently has industrial projects with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (developing next generation highly efficient wind turbine converters), GE Grid Solutions (working on next generation control design of HVDC converters), and IONATE Ltd (working on advanced active transformers for distribution networks).

Decarbonising the energy sector entails a radical change to the design and operation of the existing power system, traditionally centred on alternating current (AC) technology.

This change is being underpinned by a move from rotating synchronous machines to power-electronic converters on the generation side as well as a growing number of applications of power electronics in the transmission and distribution networks.

These power-electronic converters are used as interface between the renewable energy generators (e.g. wind turbines or photovoltaic arrays).

Power-electronic converters are also increasingly used in the transmission system, for example to create new transmission links based on direct current (DC) technology, which can efficiently transport large amountsof power over long distances.

One of the challenges associated with the massive integration of power-electronic converters is to guarantee the correctfunctioning of existing power system protections.

These protections have the crucial task to detect and identify short-circuit faults and subsequently remove them from the system, preventing a domino effect of failure across the grid and ensuring security of supply to electricity users.

To guarantee safe operationof the power system, research in this PhD will be performed on the interactions between control loops of state-of-the-art HVDC converters and existing AC protections, and new control methods will be developed to mitigate these interactions.

The PhD student will make extensive use of the laboratory setups at KU Leuven (real-time hardware-in-the-loop simulation) and the University of Edinburgh (high-power power-electronic converter setup) to validate the developedcontrol algorithm and future electricity network infrastructure.


The ideal candidate is self-motivated, enthusiastic and should ideally possess :

  • A first-class MSc degree in electrical engineering (ideally in power electronics or power systems), preferably awarded by a University in the European Economic Area (EEA) or the United Kingdom.
  • Knowledge in the areas of power systems, power electronics, control theory.
  • Experience with electromagnetic transient programs such as PSCAD or RSCAD or Simulink.
  • Experience of power converter design & control.
  • Good communication skills (English, Dutch optional).
  • A doctoral scholarships (fully funded) for four years :
  • A PhD degree in Engineering (after about 4 years of successful research) awarded by KU Leuven and the University of Edinburgh.
  • Multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.).
  • The opportunity to be active in an international research environment within a team of young and enthusiastic researchers.
  • Opportunity to work in a new research laboratory with state of the art infrastructure ().
  • Engage in research collaborations and participate at international conferences.
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