These are the core research areas of the Power, Energy and Control Engineering discipline.

Control Engineering

The theme is to use control-theoretic concepts to devise methods for automatic detection and diagnosis of underperforming solar panels in large solar farm spread over hectares of land. Underperformance in solar panels could be due to faults, degradation or panel soiling.

The work involves extensive experimental work on an experimental setup at UQ and ongoing field trials at Gatton Solar farm. This work is of significant industrial and commercialisation potential as underperforming solar panels have major economic and safety consequences in large solar farms.

The main objective is to apply advanced control theory for the control of grid-connected inverters utilised in industrial networks and renewable energy systems such as solar farms and battery storage systems. Despite significant advancements in inverter technologies, the underlying control methods continue to be rudimentary.

This research theme is aimed at applying advanced modern control methods to tackle operational challenges associated with the growing number of grid-connected inverters.

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Condition monitoring and life assessment

This research theme focuses on:

  • Instrumentation for condition monitoring and protection of power system assets and developing ageing models based on laboratory and field measurements to quantify the ageing of assets due to multi-factor ageing mechanisms.
  • Signal processing and machine learning applications in power system asset management and includes appropriate sensing to improve the visibility of asset condition, signal processing and machine learning to extract information of asset health, and modelling to understand asset ageing mechanism.
  • High frequency and transient modelling of grid connected inverters and Power Electronics in renewable energy system and motor drives.
  • Advanced Finite Element and Multiphysics simulation platforms to mitigate leakage current, common-mode voltage and fast switching transients generated by Pulse Width Modulated Volage in power converters.


Our research team are expert in the following topics:

  • Condition monitoring and Diagnosis of High Voltage assets, including Transformers, Underground cables and Overhead distribution conductors
  • Data Centric Power System Asset Management with application of AI and machine learning for condition assessment and life prediction
  • Dielectric Aging Mechanisms and Assessment
  • Health Index and Remaining Useful Life Estimation of Transformers, Underground cables and Overhead distribution conductors
  • Alternative Insulating Liquid for Power Transformer
  • The Impact of Smart Grid and Renewables on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Systems
  • Intelligent Monitoring and ageing assessment
  • Failure Aanalysis of AC motor, cable and grid connected power electronics systems in wind and solar farms due to fast inverter switching, harmonics and resonances
  • Ball bearing failure modellling in rotating systems due to common mode voltage in motor drive systems
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Pulsed Power

  • Pulsed power technology shows potential in many and disparate Industrial and biomedical applications. This technology delivers peak powers released in the form of pulsed electric and electromagnetic waves, radicals and light – generating various forms of electrical, physical and chemical phenomena.
  • Pulsed ultrasonication creates cyclic sound pressure at frequencies above 20 kHz up to several MHz resulting in the formation of the microbubbles. When the microbubbles are burst (Cavitation), they can change the permeability of cell membranes which it is known as Sonoporation. The sonoporation has been identified as an effective technique in a wide range of applications like decontamination, processing wastewater and biological fluids.

The effectiveness of high frequency and high-voltage pulsed energy on living organisms provides novel physical and chemical stress to biological systems, opening a new field in Bioelectrics.

For pulsed power technology, the electrical properties of the applied pulses should be properly studied and designed per each application to enhance the effectiveness of the utilised technique.

Our research team has a strong knowledge and experience in designing of pulsed power and pulsed ultrasonic systems and established several multi-disciplinary research collaborations within UQ and with other national and international research groups. Our team has successfully secured several competitive research grants such as ARC, NHMRC and industry-based funds and established a Pulsed Power Laboratory with the state of the art equipment and multi-physics simulation platforms. We have modelled, investigated and developed the following pulsed power systems:

  • Dewatering
  • Pasteurisation and Food Processing
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Decontamination
  • Pollutant Control
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Energy Data

Our research team together with other disciplines at the school of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE) has established a joint university-industry initiative, The Centre for Energy Data Innovation (CEDI) that is utilising large amounts of near-real time power data to uncover new insights and opportunities for network operators. This work will contribute to the creation of data-led solutions that enable an effective transition to the grid of the future. The following fields have been the main objectives of this research theme: 

  • Network management using big data, 
  • Network safety and 
  • Interaction with network large data sets (network operators and consumers)
     
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Emerging Technologies of Smart Grids - Inertia and Stability Support of Power Systems

Global warming and climate change concerns have led to rapid development and deployment of renewable energy and other environmentally sound technologies. Most of these technologies are based on power electronic devices such as inverters, converters, boost and buck converters. Understanding the technical challenges associated with the technologies and investing in technological solutions are vital for increasing uptake of the technologies. This core research theme focuses on planning and operational planning issues at the system level. Some key research focus areas in the theme are highlighted below:

  • System inertia and Primary Frequency Support: The research aims at developing innovative techno-economic control strategies for energy storage(s) to provide frequency services.
  • Assessing and Enhancing System Strength: This research will examine system strength from the point of view of dynamic voltage stability and interpreting its interaction with the other power system stability categories.
  • Distribution System Strength and Hosting Capacity: This research focuses on thoroughly investigating the system strength of distribution systems with high penetration of renewable distributed generation and other emerging technologies. The project aims at establishing a connection between various system strength measures and system stability to find out the hosting capacity of distribution grids.
  • Forced Oscillation Detection and Countermeasures: Forced oscillation has recently been detected in actual power systems with high renewable energy penetration, which could result in a widespread blackout. This research aimed at forced oscillation detection and technical solutions to overcome the forced oscillation.
  • Large-scale Deployments of Battery Energy Storage and Integration of EV charging Station: This research focused on smart integration of largescale battery energy storage and operational aspects of EV charging stations for improved grid stability and market operations.
  • Microgrid and EV management
  • Energy storage impact on LV and HV grid
  • Effective and efficient management of grid storage
     

 

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Power Electronics and Energy Conversion Systems

Power Electronics is a key technology to utilise renewable energy systems for smart and future grids and advanced electrical and electronic systems. Power electronics refers to control and conversion of electrical power - from milliwatts to hundreds of megawatts - using semiconductor power devices operating in switching mode.

Wide Band Gap (WBG) semiconductors, such as Silicon Carbide (SiC), Gallium Nitride (GaN) have been utilised in modern power electronics converters due to their superior electrical (fast switching capabilities) and thermal performances compared to silicon power switching devices.

Our research team has extensive knowledge and experience in modelling, design and development of several power electronics systems including:

  • High Frequency Active Front End (AFE) converters based on WBG switches
  • Modular Energy Conversion Systems for high power applications
  • Smart and Efficient Power Converters for Energy Management Systems utilised in commercial and industrial networks
  • Multilevel Converters – topology and control
  • Advanced power converters for high frequency converters
  • Ultrafast power converters based on WBG devices for pulsed power systems
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Power Quality and Electromagnetic Interferences

High penetration of grid connected inverters used in renewable energy systems and smart loads has significantly deteriorated the power quality of grids. Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) voltage and fast switching transients generated by power converters create high-frequency harmonics and Electromagnetic Interferences (EMI). These issues affect the reliability, quality and safe operation of grids and grid-connected equipment such as smart meters, transformers, cables and communication signalling.

Our research team has been studying and monitoring power quality problems of distribution networks using a multi-domain simulation platform and power quality data analysis at device and system levels. These methodologies will assist network service providers and manufacturers to better analyse harmonics and resonances within low and high-voltage power systems and further support them to develop new planning guidelines and regulations to address power quality of grid-connected solar inverters and wind turbines. 

  • Grid connected system analysis, modelling and simulation
  • A comprehensive power quality measurement and data analysis with advanced simulation tools
  • Energy Efficiency Improvement of advanced power electronics systems using WBG devices
  • 2-150 kHz supra-harmonics at device and system levels
  • Grid connected renewable energy systems (stability and quality control)
  • Australian and IEC Standardization Committees: Power Quality and Harmonics (SC77A, WG1, WG8 WG9)
  • Developing the first international Standard (IEC), for grid-connected solar inverter, IEC 61000-3-16
     
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Grid Integration of Renewable Energy and Demand Side Management

Demand-side management is a key tool in the effective and efficient management of future power networks comprising of distributed and intermittent energy resources. However, most of the existing demand-side potential to improve power network performance remains untapped mostly due to lack of adequate control algorithms. This research theme is to develop novel control methods based on advanced control theory for effective and robust management of distributed energy resources.

Our research team have been involved in the following research topics:

  • Demand-side management and control
  • Techno-economic and life-cycle analyses
  • Data-driven power system applications through PMU and power quality meters in real power networks
  • Small scale and large-scale PV and wind integration to distribution and transmission grid
  • Demand-side management
  • RTDS application to grid management
  • Energy transition: Enabling the power systems of the future with renewables, storage and HVDC and new technologies
  • Home and Building energy management in smart grid environment
  • Peer-to-peer trading
  • Energy Data application to better grid management
  • Grid efficient buildings
  • Transactive energy
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