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Power Networks CDT

Female student and Peter Crossley sharing a joke while Peter adjusts a dial


The Power Networks CDT has enabled students to further their research interests while developing personal skills that will further their careers.

Engineer stood on metal structure, installing composite cross-arm
Students on the CDT have worked on innovative technology like the composite cross-arm.

The Centre brings together engineers, scientists, mathematicians, social scientists, and business experts.

Together, this multidisciplinary team has helped us work towards our long term goals of supporting the electrification of energy, especially heat and transport, and encouraging greater use of low energy carbon systems.

The multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the training environment has helped develop the knowledge and skills needed for a career at the forefront of power networks research, design development, and management.

With support from leading industrial partners, students have been presented with the perfect opportunity to interact with potential future employers and undertake personal development activities catered to the career they wish to pursue.

Discover more about our programme below.

Spring School

The Power Networks CDT hold 'School' events annually. This year's School unfortunately had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 and we will be running the events virtually over the coming weeks and will feature talks and facilitated discussions from Mathaios Panteli (The University of Manchester), Charlotte Higgins (TNEI) and Ben Aylott (Carbon Coop) among others. The School will also host training sessions and much more to be confirmed.

The 2019 Winter School took place at the Chancellors Hotel, Manchester and we attracted a wide range of speakers and guests including Biljana Stojkovska from National Grid, Hugo Campelo from EFEACEC and Nigel Platt from Siemens. Cohort four gave seven minute presentations on their projects, Cohort two presented a "Researchers in the Hot Seat" discussion and there were sessions on careers and external engagement.

As students progress through their studies they take an increasingly active part in the School events, presenting both posters and talks about research and they are an excellent platform to discuss specific topics and how they link in with wider issues with fellow students, staff and industry representatives.

Taught programme content

The taught element saw students working largely in teams with other students from a range of disciplines to develop the wider understanding that enabled them to position their PhD research in the context of the whole energy system.

The first nine months of the programme consisted of a number of compulsory modules:

  • Research Methods and Project Planning
  • Energy, Society and Economics of a Low Carbon Future
  • Challenges for a Future Low Carbon Power System
  • Planning & Governance of Power Networks
  • Risk, Project and Financial Management

PhD supervisors also recommended at least one more specialist MSc level module related to students' PhD topic.

Towards the end of the initial nine-month period students completed a critical literature review based on their PhD topic which enabled them to move smoothly into the research phase of their PhD studies.

Programme overview

The programme comprises two main elements.

The taught programme has provided students with an overview of the technical, cultural and financial context within which the Power Network operates along with training in research techniques and supported conversion activities. This element of the programme involved working in teams with other students in the CDT and has helped build up networks and sense of cohort identity that has enabled students to understand their research's wider context.

Once students successfully completed the taught element of the programme they moved into the research phase of their studies. During this phase they have regular contact with both their main supervisor and a co-supervisor, who may be from a different discipline area. In addition students have an advisor, who will be a senior academic, to provide guidance and support from outside the direct supervisory team.

Throughout the programme there is also input from industry experts either through direct support for projects or as industry mentors along with a Winter School where students will come together with all the Centre's students, academics and industry representatives.

Research projects

Students on the Power Networks CDT programme undertake a wide range of research projects.

The titles can be found below:

  • Advanced protection and control of future power systems to avoid blackouts
  • Alternative structures for OHL transmission towers
  • An assessment of the impact of distributed generation on directional overcurrent protection in distribution networks
  • An assessment of the spatial variation in the risk of overheating in homes
  • Analysing controller and device interactions in complex mixed AC/DC network
  • Blockchain-based electricity trading for power networks
  • Carbon emissions from a power system with high-penetration of spatially distributed renewables
  • Control and stability of future power systems with up to 100% renewable generation
  • Economic optimisation of energy use and energy storage and its influence on power networks
  • Electricity access, micro-energy storage and human wellbeing in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Electrifying the city from below: towards distributed energy governance
  • Enabling the secure interconnection of power systems
  • Energy storage lifetime management
  • Exploring the consequences of Internet of Things devices for informal infrastructures of the global South
  • Fault location on transmission feeders using travelling waves, transients and power frequency signals
  • Generalised modelling framework for multi-energy systems with model predictive control applications
  • Heating and cooling demand effects on power networks in a changing climate
  • Identifying and modelling critical infrastructure network independencies of AC/DC systems
  • IEC61850 configuration management methodology
  • Implementation of efficient big data analysis techniques to develop intelligent energy networks
  • Initiation of electrical trees from planar surfaces
  • Investigation of alternative paper ageing indicators for power transformers
  • Learning from public engagement in multiple sectors to help plan power infrastructure, what can we learn from what is already happening in communities?
  • Managing electrical power losses in railway networks
  • Online stability analysis of power system networks with renewable source of energy
  • Optimal coordination of large-scale multi-energy systems using distributed control architecture
  • Optimal storage, smoothing and trading of wind power: assessment of performance achievements so far and the value of future performance improvements
  • Performance modelling and decision analysis of decentralised energy systems and their impact assessment
  • Planning for electric grid infrastructure: policy and governance
  • Power generation from large-scale tidal stream turbine arrays
  • Power networks for the future of aviation and shipping
  • Quantifying system level investments for large scale PV integration in the UK electric power system
  • Re-framing environmental impact analysis for power infrastructure using GIS
  • Resilience assessment and adaptation of critical infrastructures to extreme weather and natural hazards
  • Security and reliability studies for smart power networks
  • Smart insulators: embedded sensor technology and self-powered communications
  • Smart Urban Networks (SUN): unlocking capacity for low carbon technology in the electrical energy network
  • Strategy and sequencing in resource acquisition: performance differentials in renewable energy generators
  • The cooling demand of office buildings and the potential effects on power networks due to the impacts of climate change
  • The dynamics and future-proofing of heat network governance - in the context of decarbonisation and infrastructure innovation
  • The geographies of vulnerability to fuel poverty: a spatially-orientated analysis of neighbourhoods in England
  • The impact of managing electricity consumption on consumers
  • Thermal capacity of distribution transformers affected by the impact of low carbon technologies
  • Transmission network protection, control and automation for non-deterministic system planning