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Control and Power (CAP) Research Group

For us, control and power are natural partners. A new generation of control design and state estimation techniques is emerging to take account of non-linearities. This can be applied to mechanical structures but is especially useful in electricity grids which are large, high-order, plant where non-linerarities are inherent in the power flow equations and where dual problems of detecting erroneous sensors data and determining un-measured states need to be solved. We have also had success in appling robust multivariable control to damping oscillations in power grids and applying stochastic control to demand-side control of domestic refrigerators.

Control Engineering, which in the past, focused mainly on techniques of compensator design for single input, single output linear dynamical systems, has undergone a sea change in recent years. This is in response to a new generation of design problems, beyond the reach of traditional design methods, in which constraints on controlled and manipulated variables, interaction between control loops, non-linearity and plant uncertainties are dominant features.

It is also a time of unprecedented challenges in power networks as we seek to integrate low carbon technologies: notably off-shore wind farms, photovoltaic panels and electric vehicles. A re-think is needed of many long accepted practices, such as how risk is managed and how resilience is provided in networks. Work is also needed on system-wide optimisation tools to support planning and design and on equipment design. Our main focus for equipment is the use of power electronics, spanning gigawatt scale power converters for offshore High Voltage DC, power converters for voltage control in local distribution networks and wireless power transfer devices for electric vehicle charging. Our theoretical work is tested and verified through a set of lab-scale prototype power converters and example network layouts in the Maurice Hancock Smart Energy Lab.

The Control and Power Research Group has an excellent track record in publications and has a substantial portfolio of grants from the Research Councils Energy Programme including leadership of several large multi-university collaborations. We work closely with leading industrial partners such as National Grid, UK Power Networks, Alstom and many others.

We are presently recruiting students for PhD scholarships through several funding bodies. Click here for more information on the application procedure, or contact directly an academic member of the group for information regarding a specific project.

A showcase of some of the active research projects of the Group can be seen here


* Photo courtesy of Danny Harvey