2 x PhD scholarships in Co-ordination & control, and system-wide assessment of wind power plants, as part of WinGrid consortium

  • Researcher profile position First Stage Researcher (R1)
  • Application Deadline 01/12/2019 23:00 - Europe/London
  • Offer Starting Date 01/04/2020
  • Research Programme EU H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
  • Reference Number UCD-WinGrid-2019

The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University College Dublin is seeking 2 PhD researchers, as part of the WinGrid (Wind farm - Grid interactions: exploration and development) consortium, sponsored by the EU under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions in the H2020-MSCA-ITN Programme. The WinGrid consortium aims to train the next generation of researchers on future power system integration issues associated with large-scale deployment of wind generation, focussing on the modelling and control aspects of wind turbine design, and the system stability issues and supervisory structures required for robust implementation.

Project 1: Scheduling and coordination of the aggregated WPP inertial (fast frequency) response resource within a high variable renewables power system

In the future, with the majority of wind power plants (WPPs) possessing inertial (fast frequency) control capabilities, there may well be extended periods when excess frequency support capability is available for the transmission system operator (TSO), given the prevailing system conditions. In addition, the enhanced frequency support controls may be implemented by some complex mix of grid code requirements and system ancillary service arrangements, implying that there may be financial incentives to exceed the minimum requirements, but perhaps at the cost of system performance and system stability. Furthermore, WPPs will be competing with batteries, flywheels, etc. as alternative sources of inertial (fast frequency) support, which may well lead to unintended and unforeseen control interactions.

Consequently, given that there is only limited operational experience of inertial (fast frequency) controls in a few systems, and generally not at high wind shares, there is a growing need to develop a novel overarching co-ordination strategy, including the design of innovative operational management & scheduling rules, and the specification of robust (future-proof) grid code requirements and system ancillary service definitions, in order to securely and economically schedule the aggregated, system-wide WPP inertial (fast frequency) response.

In particular, the research objectives are: (1) Development of novel power system (robust) operational rules relating to the minimum required volume of frequency support services and inertial (fast frequency) support. (2) Assessment of available and forecastable volume of inertial frequency support from wind power plants and alternative providers, e.g. flywheels, batteries. (3) Assessment of frequency stability of the power system, considering aggregated response from all (including wind) inertial support providers, recognising gain scheduling and mode scheduling mechanisms, and interaction with contingency reserve timeframes. (4) Simulation of WPP real-time and day-ahead inertial frequency support scheduling within a 'smart grid' communications network and a unit commitment (market scheduling) framework, as seen from transmission system operator and market operator perspectives. (5) Publication of journal and conference papers.

Project 2: Network grid assessment of hydrostatic transmission based wind farms

The gearbox of a conventional wind turbine drivetrain is very heavy, expensive and fragile, and its replacement or maintenance is difficult and costly. Replacing the gearbox drivetrain with hydrostatic transmission (HST) potentially offers a better solution. A HST approach offers a much longer life cycle, and it can significantly reduce the nacelle mass by mounting the motor and generator in the tower base, so that maintenance becomes much easier. Since hydrostatic transmission provides continuously variable transmission from the rotor/pump shaft to the motor/generator shaft, a synchronous generator can be used without the need for a converter to match the grid frequency. Consequently, it is noteworthy that being based on converter-free synchronous machines, HST wind farms exhibit a form of inertial response, which is of clear value to the larger power system.

The HST-WT concept was proposed in the 1980s, but low efficiency prevented its widespread application. Recently, however, the world’s largest floating HST wind turbine (7 MW) has been operational, indicating its potential for wide-scale commercial application. An ongoing challenge, however, is their grid integration - it is essentially an 'unseen' technology as far as the power system is concerned, particularly if rolled out at scale.

Reducing the uncertainty surrounding the ability of HST wind turbines to meet and exceed grid code (and system service) requirements, and the impact on capital cost and maintenance cycles, is critical in determining the operational and commercial viability of such technologies, particularly in comparison with existing converter-based wind turbines. To solve such challenges at the turbine level, small-scale hydraulic energy storage technologies (an accumulator) can be employed in combination (coordinated control system) with the hydrostatic transmission system of the HST-WT turbine. The accumulator acts as a short-term energy store, potentially enabling power output variations to be smoothed out against varying wind speed conditions. At the wind farm level, model-free data-driven control algorithms can be developed to coordinate each turbine's power output, and to improve the handling capability during overvoltage transients and voltage dips.

In particular, the research objectives are: (1) Develop a power system simulation test environment to enable performance evaluation of HST-WTs (wind turbines) against grid code specifications, and existing/future system ancillary service definitions and performance scalars. (2) Evaluate low/high voltage ride through performance of HST-WTs for network faults, including the ability to achieve fast post-fault active power recovery system service provision. (3) Evaluate grid code compliance and system service capabilities of HST-based wind farms, against balanced/unbalanced network faults, conventional generator failures (inertial response and contingency reserve provision), and load following / frequency regulation. (4) Assess operational performance of data-driven based control approaches, and analytical comparison against the performance of converter-based wind turbines. (5) Publication of journal and conference papers.


The Marie Sklodowska -Curie programme offers highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. The selected candidates are employed with a full-time contract. The period of employment is 3 years. The salary follows the Marie Curie- Sklodowska ITN funding Scheme. Exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment. It consists of a living allowance plus a monthly mobility and family allowance depending on the family situation.

Eligibility criteria

  • All researchers recruited on a Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN must be Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs). An ESR shall, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Date of Recruitment normally means the first day of employment of the fellow for the purposes of the project (i.e. the starting date indicated in the employment contract or equivalent direct contract)
  • Researchers can be of any nationality
  • There is no age limit
  • Researchers are required to undertake transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. One general rule applies to the appointment of researchers: at the time of recruitment by the host beneficiary, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. Note that the mobility rule applies to the beneficiary where the researcher is recruited, and not to beneficiaries to which the researcher is sent or seconded.
  • For all recruitment, the eligibility and mobility of the researcher will be determined at the time of their (first) recruitment in the project. The status of the researcher will not evolve over the life-time of a contract.

Selection process

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all the items listed below to Dr Damian Flynn (damian.flynn@ucd.ie) by 1st December 2019. All documents should be written using the English language

  • A motivation letter (cover letter), clearly indicating which project (or both) is being applied for
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Currently valid IELTS, TOEFL or other English language qualification
  • A 2-page maximum research statement, indicating the research interests of the applicant, with particular relevance to the topics involved in the advertised PhD positions
  • A maximum of 2 additional technical documents/reports/research papers where the applicant has been the lead author

Further details on the English language requirements can be found at http://www.ucd.ie/registry/admissions/elr.html


Additional comments

University College Dublin (UCD) is the largest university in Ireland, with 30,000 students, 1,600 academic staff across a range of disciplines, and producing 25% of Irish PhD graduates each year. UCD’s major strategic research themes are: Energy and Environment; Agri-Food; Culture, Economy and Society; Health; Information, Computation and Communications. The university is ranked number 1 in Ireland for 40 of the 43 subject areas covered, and it is currently ranked within the top 1% of institutions world-wide.

The Energy Institute, within UCD, concentrates its research on Energy Systems Integration (ESI) which provides the basis for enhanced energy performance, reduced cost and minimizes environmental impact. The Energy Systems Integration approach considers the relationships among electricity, thermal, water and fuel systems and data and information networks to ensure optimal integration and inter-operability across the entire energy system spectrum. With about 100 PhD students and about 20 postdoctoral researchers, the Institute employs state of the art computational facilities, including supercomputers and a real-time simulator. In addition at UCD, an Integrated energy laboratory has been developed, in conjunction with EPRI, with the objective of assessing the performance, reliability & integration of large (industrial & commercial) & small (residential) scale technology.


Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in Electrical Engineering / Power Engineering / Control Engineering

Applicants are sought with a strong background in electrical engineering, or similar disciplines, and with experience in power system stability analysis, integration of renewable energy sources, power systems planning, unit commitment & economic dispatch procedures, and power electronics control systems.

Applicants should also possess the ability to work within a project team and to take responsibility for their own research goals. Fluency in communicating and reporting in English is also required.

Specific Requirements

Applicant should have a currently valid IELTS, TOEFL or other English language qualification

Further details on English language requirements can be found at http://www.ucd.ie/registry/admissions/elr.html


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