power pylon from below, against a blue and pink sky

Electronic & electrical engineeringAdvanced Electrical Systems

Core areas of expertise

Power Systems Protection & Automation

This theme concentrates on research, development and demonstration of solutions to protection challenges that are emerging due to the evolution of power network architectures. These include:

  • FACTS devices and their impact on protection systems
  • Loss of mains protection
  • Protection of HVDC links and multi-terminal HVDC networks of the future
  • Protection of systems incorporating power electronics converters and energy storage
  • Protection of marine electrical systems
  • Protection of aircraft electrical systems
  • Fault location

Power System Analysis & Renewables Integration

Numerous technical, economic and commercial challenges exist in connecting and integrating distributed and renewable generation to power systems. Using desktop, laboratory, field study and experimentation, these are being tackled by this team. At the distribution system level, the team is developing protection and control solutions for generation integration, and testing these solutions on rapid development platforms such as those sited in our DG integration and protection and control labs.

The team is also working on active distribution network management solutions and has successfully tested one of these with industry partner, SSE. At the transmission system level the team have worked on transmission capacity expansion issues with the GB transmission licensees and are working on offshore renewables grids and spatial and temporal data modelling issues.

Intelligent Systems

This theme focuses on fundamental and applied research in the area of intelligent system applications in power and energy. Combing expertise in artificial intelligence and power engineering, research staff outputs’ deliver systems with advanced decision support, automated decision making and autonomous control capabilities. In particular, automated data analysis and distributed intelligence architectures are being developed to underpin Smart Grids, condition monitoring, active network management, diagnostics and prognostics in the energy industry.

Markets & Economics

This research takes an economics-driven approach to power systems markets, whilst being concerned with the technological and engineering specifics which distinguish such markets and define their operational capabilities, scenarios and constraints. Work spans market modelling paradigms and methodologies, market power, effects of local market constraints, purposes of electricity markets, and the effects of technology constraints.

Marine & Aero Electrical Systems

This research theme focuses on the areas of electrical-mechanical power systems modelling and simulation, network design and analysis, and protection and control. These areas are especially relevant in the development of new ship and aircraft systems. Work conducted has considered a wide range of novel technologies and concepts, incorporating various power distribution methods including constant or variable frequency ac, dc and mixed ac-dc.

This work is supported by an extensive knowledge of existing steady state and transient simulation methods and internally developed novel model abstraction and multi-rate simulation methods. This capability enables the rapid development and effective utilisation of new system models.

Asset Management

This theme represents a key area of innovation and investment for electricity companies as they attempt to better manage their physical assets.  Asset management strategies are closely aligned with the asset lifecycle and involve asset condition monitoring and assessment, maintenance, repair, refurbishment and replacement. Understanding the relationship between variations in asset condition and health, and the technical and commercial risks this exposes the business to, is necessary to make informed investment decisions on how best to manage the asset base and associated risk.

Targeted and optimised capital and operational expenditure can be achieved through the implementation of an efficient asset management strategy designed to extend asset life and improve asset performance. This in turn offers asset owners a greater return on investment while satisfying regulatory incentive targets and customer demands.

This team has conducted research into various aspects of power system asset management in collaboration with a number of leading UK Electricity Companies. This research has ranged from the development of asset specific condition monitoring technologies, the application of data and risk analysis techniques for asset condition-based risk assessment and the development of decision making methodologies for asset investment planning.

Advanced Sensors for Power & Energy Industries

This theme focuses on photonic sensors research with the key objective to harness the benefits of fibre-optic sensing and develop solutions for specific measurement problems within power and energy sectors. The portfolio investigates spectrally encoded sensors, and addresses such issues as sensor design, fabrication, packaging, deployment, and interrogation. Sensing applications have included such areas as:

  • power system metering and protection
  • gas turbine monitoring
  • pressure
  • temperature voltage and current measurement
  • sensing in nuclear fission and fusion environments
  • other sensing applications


Advanced Electrical Systems

This group has a state-of-the-art Distribution Network & Protection Laboratory. This £1M experimental facility comprises a 100 kVA microgrid set with digital partial discharge (PD) detection equipment. It offers hardware-in-the-loop capability, and incorporates induction machines, programmable load banks and various 1/3 phase inverters.

The facility supports a range of international academic and industrial programmes and has been expanded to incorporate a communications system simulator for testing of smart grid technologies. It supports basic research, Rolls-Royce UTC activities, and engagement with European research organisations via the EU Distributed Energy Research Infrastructure (DERri) and Distributed Energy Resources Laboratories (DERLab) programmes.