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Grid Protection For Renewable Energy Integration


Department of Engineering

Dr A Horsfall Monday, March 15, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Durham United Kingdom Electrical Engineering Electronic Engineering Energy Technologies

About the Project

Project: Grid Protection For Renewable Energy Integration

Department: Engineering

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2021.

Across the world difficulties in accessing national power distribution grids limits the development and lifestyle of a large number of people across the globe. The development of renewable energy sources, including photovoltaics and wave energy, offers an opportunity to create local, micro-grid networks for these physically remote communities. However, these systems need to be protected from electrical faults and phenomena including lightning strikes.

The project seeks to develop solid state protection circuits that can isolate the renewable energy system from the local network orders of magnitude faster than the use of fuses. These protection circuits will utilise the superlative material properties of silicon carbide, the pre-eminent wide bandgap semiconductor, to limit the flow of energy in the network. The integration of the protection circuits with solid-state transformers in the latter stages of the project will enable a greater level of flexibility in the power distribution and result in a higher quality of electrical power.

The project will involve the development of simulation models of a range of power electronic devices and circuits, the construction and testing of power electronic circuits at grid voltages. This will be supported by the use of Hardware in Loop (HIL) testing for real time control.

The project is supervised by Drs Alton Horsfall and Behzad Kazembrizi. For informal enquiries please contact .

The application closing date is 15th March 2021 and interviews will take place in mid-April 2021. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Our eligibility requirements are:

•       Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

•       If required, an IELTS score of 6.5 with no component under 6.0.

·       Two satisfactory academic references.

•       Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Durham or elsewhere.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

  • Create an account and click ‘Postgraduate Apply’ on the top ribbon.
  • Search for ‘EPSRC CDT’ in Course and select Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (EPSRC CDT) starting in 2021/22. 
  • Complete the application form, ensuring the following:
  • On the funding tab select ‘yes’ you are applying for a scholarship, select ‘Other’, write RENU/Horsfall in the name of the scholarship, and select 1st October 2021 as the start date. No scholarship documents are required.
  • On the project course details tab write RENU/Horsfall in Field of Study.
  • Please include an application letter summarising your motivation and suitability for the project.
  • Please ensure you follow all of these steps to ensure your application is considered.



Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21, this was £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees. Also, significant additional funding is included to cover research costs and local, national and international travel such as conferences and exchanges. Note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis between projects. We anticipate that up to 6 awards will be made for projects hosted at Durham.  

Please note there are a limited number of full international scholarships available. Further information about how EPSRC classifies international fee status please see Annex 1 of https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/UKRI-121020-Guidance-International-Eligibility-Implementation-training-grant-holders.pdf


Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21, this was £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees. Also, significant additional funding is included to cover research costs and local, national and international travel such as conferences and exchanges.  Note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis between projects. We anticipate that up to 6 awards will be made for projects hosted at Durham.
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