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Brunel Institute of Power Systems (BIPS)

Research Aims and Strategies:

The commercial and industrial research clients of the group, particularly the electricity supply industry, will continue to undergo dynamic change in the coming years. This is a consequence of de-regulation, changing priorities on energy sources and the emission of pollutants, and the world-wide introduction of new market regimes. The group aims to continue to provide technological solutions at the forefront of research in these areas. Current research funding has been obtained approximately one third from UK government sources (EPSRC) and two thirds from UK and international industry.

Research themes and description of activities:

Power systems analysis for transmission and distribution networks, including steady-state and dynamic analysis, linear and non-linear operation. Investigation of algorithms for congestion monitoring in transmission networks. Simulation and analysis of new energy markets. Portfolio and strategy optimisation taking into account risk and uncertainty. Optimisation of the design and operation of electrical networks. Modelling and optimal control of FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission Systems). Condition monitoring of power station and power system plant. Development of advanced mathematical models of underground electric cables.

Research Data:

  • Total Grant Income: more than £3M over last 5 years
  • Number of Projects: over 10
  • Number of Refereed Journal Papers: over 300
  • Number of Refereed Conference Papers (and Book Chapters): over 500
  • Number of Research Students:
    Current: PhD 35, over 50 PhD awarded (2003-2016),  EngD awarded 1 (2006), MPhil awarded 25 (2003-2007)
  • RAs and RFs: 5
  • National and International Collaborations:
    University of Oxford, Tsing Hua University, China; University of Plzen, Czech Republic; Polytechnica University Bucharest, Romania; University of Santa Caterina, Brazil, Sichuan University, China; Oklahoma University, USA; Offis, Germany; Fraunhofer, Germany;
  • Key Industrial Collaborators: National Grid UK, EDF Energy, UK Power Networks, ALSTOM, GE Power Conversion, Nortech, Intel

Research Impact:

Computer models and optimisation algorithms produced by the group have been implemented in over 35 utility companies, in 7 countries.  New algorithms resulting from the research, and described in publications, have taken up and further developed by many researchers, internationally.

Inter- Multi- and Cross-disciplinary Aspects:

The research of the group draws on the disciplines of electrical power engineering, control engineering, optimisation theory, computational algorithms and methods and information technology.  Much of the research is multi-disciplinary, with individual research projects requiring skills in two or more disciplines.

Future Plans and Developments:

The group plans to maintain and extend its international collaborations.  It is intended to foster partnerships within the group and collaboration with other groups.  In particular, research on novel heuristic optimisation techniques should have benefits for many of the technological applications areas of interest to the group.  Energy utilities continue to undergo rapid technological change as a consequence of international de-regulation and the increasing importance of alternative and renewable sources.  The research group intends to respond to evolving research requirements in these fields and also (where possible) to anticipate future needs, for example producing novel algorithms for the operation of power systems as energy markets, incorporating risk management under technical and financial uncertainties.

Research Areas

Power Systems Analysis and Control

Research activity is centred upon extensive computer facilities for simulating the dynamic behaviour, control and monitoring of power systems, within a control room environment which can be configured to reflect either current or future planned operational procedures. Considerable use is made of artificial intelligence techniques for condition monitoring, network planning and optimised operation.

Research topics include continuing studies on state estimation/bad data analysis, load flow analysis, load-frequency control, economic allocation of generation, unit scheduling arid integrating these and other studies within an overall strategy for control and energy management. Aspects of pricing and tariffs are also being investigated. Particular attention has been paid to the man-machine interfacing requirements for operating large modern interconnected power systems via computer terminals, and systems are under development for new and efficient ways of displaying topological and dynamic network data.

Power Market and Power System Economics

World-wide unprecedented reform and restructuring of the electric power industry has imposed tremendous challenges on the operation of power systems under this new environment. The group has a record of international excellence in research and development of advanced computational tools for efficiently operating market-oriented power systems. Recent research covers all the major operational issues, such as scheduling and dispatch, congestion management, available transfer capability calculation, price forecasting and optimal bidding strategies. Advanced optimization techniques including genetic algorithms, ant colony search and particle swarm methods have been successfully applied.

Power Electronics

The main field of investigation is the efficient regulation and control of power and energy flow in systems incorporating electric circuits, machines and systems using power semiconductor. switching devices. A major investigation over the past decade has been in the area of active filters for improving power quality and reactive control in electrical networks. With the tremendous growth in the use of computers on industrial sites and commercial buildings, there is growing concern about their impact on power quality.

A major initiative funded by industry and government agencies is under way to build active filters for controlling current harmonics based on the switched-capacitor technique pioneered at Brunel. The application of this technique to flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS) for reactive power and stability control in power distribution and transmission systems is under investigation.

Other important areas of study include switched-mode and resonant power supplies, and application of DSPs, neural networks and fuzzy logic in power electronics systems.