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

Grid integration of renewable energies: emerging challenges

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. Understanding the technical challenges associated with the technologies and investing in technological solutions are vital for increasing uptake of the new renewable 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 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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Electrical asset condition monitoring and life assessment

This research theme focuses on condition monitoring and life prediction of electrical assets (transformers, underground cables, overhead conductors etc.).

Many assets in the electricity transmission and distribution sectors are operating beyond their normal rated life. Their remnant life is affected by ageing and other operating environments. 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 and prediction of remnant life due to multi-factor ageing mechanisms are the focus areas.

Signal processing and machine learning applications are applied in power system asset management, which also includes appropriate sensing devices to improve the visibility of asset condition to extract information of asset health, and modelling to understand asset ageing mechanisms and their impact on remaining life.

High frequency and transient modelling of grid connected Power Electronics in renewable energy system are also investigated by our work.

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Energy management, microgrid and cyber physical systems

Our research is focussed towards developing a platform for data-driven energy management for both existing and future energy systems. Our work can also support research on microgrid with renewable energy integration and reduction of fossil fuel based generation, and ultimately provides a unique platform for 21st-century energy secured energy systems. Work in this area are focussed in these topics.

  • Grid-efficient interactive buildings
  • Peer-to-peer trading
  • Connected communities
  • Transactive energy platform along with other power systems infrastructure
  • Internet-of-Things applications
  • Application of artificial intelligence
  • User behaviour
  • Big data
  • Individual and community storage management
  • Demand flexibility and ancillary service market participation
  • Micro grid energy management and control
  • Digital twin of whole energy supply chain

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Control applications in power engineering

Control theory has a wide area of applications in power engineering. Some examples of our works are listed below. 

Solar Farm Fault Detection and Diagnosis: The theme is to use control-theoretic concepts to devise methods for automatic detection and diagnosis of under-performing solar panels in large solar farm spread over hectares of land.

Under-performance 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.

Renewable Energy Integration: 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.

Demand-side management: 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.

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Power data analytics for network management and intelligence

Work in this area is conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Energy Data Innovation (CEDI), which is a cross-disciplinary, joint university-industry initiative.

CEDI utilises a large amount 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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Power electronics, power quality and pulsed power

Power Electronics is a key technology to utilise renewable energy systems for smart and future grids and advanced electrical and electronic systems. Our research team has extensive knowledge and experience in modelling, design and development of several power electronics systems.

High penetration of grid connected inverters used in renewable energy systems and smart loads has significantly deteriorated the power quality of grids. Power Quality 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.

Pulsed power is an exciting and emerging technology with a variety of industrial and Bioelectrics applications, such as water treatment. The ability of pulsed power to deliver energy as pulsed electromagnetic waves, plasmas, shock waves, radicals and light, opens up new research challenges and unexplored opportunities for industrial and biomedical applications. This technology is a multi-disciplinary research field which widely used in different applications and showed great potential in liquid decontamination, food processing, tailings dewatering and facilitating fruit and vegetable growth. The state-of-the-art facility at The University of Queensland will enable researchers to explore nanosecond pulsed power excitation in a variety of applications, including mining, food processing, and bioenergy.

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