Science and Engineering

Power engineering

Overview

What is power engineering?

Electricity is the heartbeat of modern society, which means power engineers play a significant role in almost every aspect of a modern lifestyle. Power engineers work to ensure a safe, efficient and reliable supply and consumption of electricity. They're the people responsible for planning, designing, constructing and operating the infrastructure that generates, transports, distributes and consumes electricity, and they ensure reliability and power quality. Without power engineers there would be no lights, no TV, no computers or mobile phones, no appliances. Today’s society would simply not know how to function without them.

Research

Our team of researchers is in a key position to make a difference, whether it's taking on climate change challenges, technological innovation challenges or working to provide an essential service to the community. We specialise in advancing new technologies, new systems and exploring more efficient use of energy.

Research expertise

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

Our 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.

Our regular monthly QUT Power, Energy and Clean Technologies (PECT) seminar series have been providing a very useful platform to promote research and technology advancements at the universities and within the industry, for nearly a decade.

Facilities

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

Microgrid Facility (MGF)

Our Microgrid Facility based on campus provides a practical, safe and efficient platform for new research and collaboration between those working in renewable energy, distributed generation, distributed storage, power systems, protection and safety, demand management, communications and power electronics.

Banyo Pilot Plant Precinct

QUT's Banyo Pilot Plant Precinct facility allows us to conduct research projects that require high-voltage, high-current testing and solar applications. During 2016, a prototype Siemens HTS superconductor was installed at the facility, allowing researchers to test a range of high-temperature superconducting technologies. Additional Siemens equipment has been installed to enable the 400 kilowatt HTS motor to be used in energy regeneration mode. The long term goal of this project is to evaluate a superconducting propulsion unit on an Australian navy surface vessel in 2020.

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 with us. Contact our staff to find out more about research opportunities, or take a look at our school's available student 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