Science and Engineering

Power engineering

Overview

Research

We are on the cutting-edge in the field of energy research, and the top-ranked Australian university in this discipline by research income from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Research expertise

Work in our discipline covers distribution network analysis, wide area control, modelling inverters in networks and signal processing.

The group is currently focusing on projects in:

  • distribution planning
  • power systems
  • power electronics
  • high voltage
  • superconducting.

Our members work as part of multidisciplinary research teams. We specialise in advancing energy efficiency through collaborations that bring together global expertise in:

  • integrated energy systems and modelling
  • energy delivery - local and national
  • renewable energy technologies
  • power converters.

Industry connections

Many of our researchers are part of committees in the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE), giving us direct access to the distribution industry.

We also communicate our research results monthly during the QUT Power, Energy and Clean Technologies (PECT) seminars, which have good industry attendance.

Facilities

Our researchers use the Microgrid Facility (MGF), which provides a unique platform for research and collaboration in renewable energy, distributed generation, distributed storage, power systems, demand management, communications and power electronics.

Research projects in the power engineering and energy areas include high-voltage, high-current testing and solar applications, so we use the Banyo Pilot Plant Precinct, which is a general-purpose facility for large-scale or scaled-up research, testing and validation. Superconducting research for applications in the power grid is also carried out at the Banyo precinct.

These facilities enable a wide range of new research directions and collaboration with industry, and are useful teaching aids for our undergraduate students.

Projects

The Category 1 funded research projects we are currently leading are:

Customer responsive risk-managed network planning

Project leader
Professor Gerard Ledwich
Dates
2014-2017
Project summary

The aim of this project is to reduce the cost of network delivery of electricity though a reduced network build. The cost of the network is balanced against the cost of reliability of supply. The key developments are optimisation of investment considering batteries, etc, combined with customer load response and explicit inclusion of the uncertainties of load growth and in the response level of the customer loads.

The project combines skills of power engineering optimisation, software systems and social science. Most of the demand response programs globally have focused on a pure economic incentive for variation of customer load. This project aims to make use of recent findings on the benefits of combining community engagement with the incentives.

New topologies optimised for co-located grid connected photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems

Project leader
Associate Professor Geoff Walker
Dates
2014-2017
Project summary

When a grid connected photovoltaic (PV) system and battery storage are co-located, many advantages can be gained by sharing and optimising the grid connection power electronics (DC-DC converters and DC-AC inverters).

The specific aims of this project are to identify existing, and then develop and compare new, system topologies and configurations, for grid connecting co-located PV and (battery) storage in the low voltage AC distribution network. Different optimal solutions including new solutions are expected for single and three phase systems, for varying power levels from one kilowatt to one megawatt, and for varying load shapes (for example, residential vs commercial).

Supporting the successful deployment of resilient 'prosumer-based' energy systems

Project leader
Professor Gerard Ledwich
Dates
2016-2019
Project summary

The project aims to develop a new framework to support the successful deployment of resilient ‘prosumer-based’ energy systems. The increasing deployment of new energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, and battery and other energy storages, challenges the current operating regimes of energy systems.

The proposed framework explores ways to integrate new technology into existing systems, focusing on new methods of energy management with interactions with millions of devices and storage units, and real-time communications to devices.

Electrical network-costing framework to reward customers who act to reduce network stress

Project leader
Professor Gerard Ledwich
Dates
2016-2019
Project summary

The solution to the existing explosion in distribution network costs is to develop customer-responsive solutions in demand management and use of storage. The aim of this project is to develop a framework for network costs that is driven by local congestion and therefore would reward customer-responsive solutions.

Our vision is that the aggregator would provide customers with communications and control equipment to automate the changes in responsiveness so that customer-generated load shifting would act to limit peaks.

Improving battery management systems to smooth the intermittent contribution of renewable energy sources to the grid

Project leader
Professor Mahinda Vilathgamuwa
Dates
2016-2019
Project summary

As the level of penetration of renewable energy sources into electrical grids increases, energy storage will play an increasingly important role in solving some of the technical challenges caused by the intermittent nature of the renewable sources.

The existing design methods for grid-scale battery management systems do not take into consideration the degradation of the battery banks. Therefore we aim to fill this gap by developing an electrochemical-based, degradation-conscious, battery management system.

Interdisciplinary and inter-institution projects

Some of the projects we are contributing to with other disciplines and institutions are:

  • From innovators to mainstream market: a toolkit for transforming Australian housing and maximising sustainability outcomes for stakeholders, 2013-2016

Student topics

Are you looking to further your career by pursuing study at a higher and more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research these topics:

Contact

School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

  • Level 12, S Block, Room 1221
    Gardens Point

  • Postal address:
    School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001