Research

Our research programme consists of a core programme funded by our membership base and other research work which is resourced through a number of funding options. Typically our programme of activities fall into the six themes of research as listed below. Each theme is stimulated by the triple helix of academic, industry and research input, providing the rich tapestry for effective innovation.

Asset Management

Power generation, transmission and distribution is changing. The future includes a greater proportion of distributed generation and significant renewable sources which place new stresses on equipment and the systems that connect them. In addition, power industry infrastructure is ageing and there is a continual drive to optimise the utilisation of existing infrastructure, thus avoiding significant new capital investment. As such, the current asset base needs to operate safely, reliably and affordably, while minimising the risks and the impacts on the network of the new sources and load profiles.

Asset Management is critically important to make the most effective spend decisions. Operating power industry assets to their maximum useful lives while increasing the reliability of the operation and reducing the risks and the costs, is the ultimate aim.

In this context the asset management theme of research concentrates on the development of methodologies for assessing asset condition and estimation of the risk of failure through state of the art models, optimisation of maintenance practices, development cost analysis modules and investigation into decision-making practices.

Transmission Tower Condition Assessment

Failure of transmission towers or their associated components can cause a cascading failure involving a number of adjacent towers along the line. Repair is very costly: it involves replacement of overhead lines and towers affected, and includes other costs associated with power disruption and litigation. Therefore utilities spend a significantly amount of money on inspection and maintenance programmes to prevent failures occurring

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Communication and Systems Integration

The complexity of the electricity supply network continues to grow as electricity production moves away from the traditional centralised model of generation, to a distributed model, that are more disparate in both size and technology.

Renewable technologies, such as wind and solar, are creating a pull for connection to the grid via DC links, energy storage devices and DC-AC converters. The real-time monitoring, control and optimisation of such a complex network – in the context of stability, synchronisation, power quality, islanding protection, reliability, load balancing, intelligent metering and active demand management – requires an ICT infrastructure that is larger and more sophisticated than that required for the traditional power system. Many technologies can be integrated to realise this ICT (Information and Communications Technology) infrastructure including sensor networks, power-line communication, optical fibre and wireless communications, and GPS for location and timing.

This theme focuses on advanced communications addressing security protocols, encryption techniques, testing remote sensing capability, sensor communications and verifying data acquisition, using a range of systems and processes.

Our Capabilities

  • Real 11kV and LV distribution networks, which are flexible with the ability to vary voltage, frequency and perform disturbance testing in a controlled environment.
  • A team of post doctorate researchers with individual areas of expertise relevant to our Core Research Themes shown on the left.
  • The capability to research, test and demonstrate hardware, software and integrated systems solutions in a safe, controlled environment.

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Network and Demand-Side Management

Significant advancements towards a low carbon economy require the integration of clean and renewable forms of energy sources on the electricity networks. Future electricity networks need to be capable of incorporating widespread energy generation, storage facilities and “smart grid” solutions. These developments mean today’s networks will be increasingly subject to change with increasingly variable load levels, changes to the network topology and operation, and different types of end-user.

Power networks are subjected to a range of new influences and will be exposed to numerous innovative or novel technologies, products or operating paradigms that are evolving as part of future power systems.

Network and Demand Side Management (NDSM) solutions can assist in these anticipated future network scenarios by peak shifting electrical loads or redistributing unbalanced loads between phases. This activity and its evolution is the key focus of the Network and Demand Side Management theme.

Our Capabilities

  • Real 11kV and LV distribution networks, which are flexible with the ability to vary voltage, frequency and perform disturbance testing in a controlled environment.
  • A team of post doctorate researchers with individual areas of expertise relevant to our Core Research Themes shown on the left.
  • The capability to research, test and demonstrate hardware, software and integrated systems solutions in a safe, controlled environment.

Find out more

Power Electronics and Distributed Energy

Power-electronic based technology is increasingly being adopted in power networks as FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission System) and HVDC devices to redirect power flow, control voltage, provide fast fault-current limiting as well as providing a grid interface for distributed energy resources such as solar, wind, energy storage and electric vehicles.

This core research theme looks at the grid integration and operational aspects of these technologies to optimise network operation by providing ancillary services and deferring reinforcement as well as the interplay of these technologies for a future smarter grid. The work is delivered under this theme in the form of testing, demonstration and simulation.

As such, the key words for this theme are ancillary services, microgrids, power quality, energy storage, electric vehicles, solar, wind, FACTS and HVDC.

Hybrid Bus Charging Technology

The introduction of low emission vehicle technology stimulated the need for a hybrid powered bus, using both a conventional diesel powered engine and an inductively charged battery pack to power on electric drive train. As a consequence, Alexander Denis, British Aerospace, Axeon Power, SSE and the University of Strathclyde’s PNDC received grant funding to build, deploy and test the functionality of this inductively charged Hybrid Bus.

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Protection and Control

Future electricity networks will be capable of incorporating widespread energy generation, storage facilities and ‘smart grid’ solutions. From a protection perspective, networks will be subject to changing and variable fault levels. There will also be changes to the topology of networks and markedly different system behaviour, particularly during network faults. Coordination of network protection, and between network protection and the protection of distributed energy resources (including energy storage) both represent major challenges that need addressing through research, development and demonstration.

This theme investigates the protection and control of future networks, covering networks that are both incrementally and radically different from those of today, through a variety of means.

Testing of Fault Passage Indicators

Fault passage indicators (FPIs) are used as a means of identifying the faulted section of network in long and branched distribution network overhead lines or interconnected cable circuits. This is a vital enabling technology for automated fault isolation and restoration, minimising the disruption of customers’ supplied following faults.

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Sensors and Measurement

Reliable condition monitoring, proper diagnostics and accurate interpretation could help reduce the rate of ageing, improve operations and network optimisation, enable an accurate assessment of the overall integrity of the network and its assets, and minimise the risk of unexpected failures. Sensing technologies and systems play a strong role in fulfilling this need.

This theme develops novel sensors, as well as characterising a variety of sensor technologies that could be applied within the electricity business, and analyses methods and systems to make better use of data.

Our Capabilities

  • Real 11kV and LV distribution networks, which are flexible with the ability to vary voltage, frequency and perform disturbance testing in a controlled environment.
  • A team of post doctorate researchers with individual areas of expertise relevant to our Core Research Themes shown on the left.
  • The capability to research, test and demonstrate hardware, software and integrated systems solutions in a safe, controlled environment.

Find out more

Engage With Us

You can engage with us in a number of different ways; either as a member, a direct client, or through a consortium funding arrangement. We will have the plan to suit your needs, simply submit some brief details and we will be in touch.