PhD in Engineering: Study of the impacts of electrification of heating on electric grid at district level
The School of Engineering is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting 3.5-year PhD project entitled ‘Study of the impacts of electrification of heating on electric grid at district level’ within the SP&E Division.
Heat accounts nearly half of the UK’s total energy consumption and it is far more challenging to decarbonise heat due to its nature of decentralised generation and consumption and its reliance on gas and other carbon-based fuels. Considering the rapid increase of renewable power generations in the UK, electrifying heat becomes attractive for decarbonising the heating sector in the longer term. This, however, will significantly increase the peak electrical power demand in winter, bringing further challenges to the grid, in terms of creating extra power generation capacity and balancing generation and consumption.
In the past, the heating and power sectors were normally operated separately. Nowadays, interface devices between the electrical grid and heating networks have been widely utilised, including electrical heat pumps, combined heat and power (CHP) engines, electrical boilers and heaters. As a result, the heating and power systems have become interdependent. The heating systems with heat storage can potentially provide a new way of energy storage for the electrical grid. For example, the “Power-to-Heat concept”, i.e., surplus renewable power generation can be used to produce heat via electrical heat pumps or electrical heaters, which can then be stored as heat for later use. They can bring new flexibility to the electrical grid to accommodate more intermittent renewable power generations, provided they can be properly coordinated.
The integration of heating and electrical networks is an emerging research topic. It is, however, challenging to develop such integrated models due to the complexity of integrated systems.
In response to the challenges and opportunities identified above, this project aims to develop modelling tools for integrated heating and power systems. Based on the obtained models, we will then study the interaction mechanisms between the heating and electrical sub-systems, and then investigate optimal operational strategy for such integrated energy systems. We will then use the developed models of integrated energy systems to investigate the impacts of the electrification of heat on the electrical grid at a district level. Such insights will be very important for the gird operators because the heating sector will be gradually electrified in the future in the UK as the renewable power generation rapidly increases.
The candidate should have at least a 2:1 BEng Degree in the electrical engineering. Candidates with first Glass BEng or a MSc degree in electrical engineering will be preferred. Additional experience in heating networks or integrated energy networks will be an advantage.
The studentship is jointly supported by the Scottish Power and the College of Science and Engineering, and it will cover home tuition fees (est. £4,324 for session 2019/20) and provide a stipend at the UKRI rate for 3.5 years (est. £14,999 for session 2019/20).
Please note that international students are welcome to apply but will will need to cover the difference between the home and international fee (full international fee is £21,020 p.a.).