Current Research Projects

Key ResearchProjects

Project Updates can be obtained from

  • RAC - Collinsville Solar Thermal Power Station

    (2013–2015) RATCH-Australia Corporation Limited

  • Sustainable operation of transformers with better understanding of technical and economic constraints

    (2013–2015) ARC Linkage Projects

  • PhD Students: two to be recruited in 2014

    Development of Smart Power Transformers with Intelligent Monitoring, Diagnostic and Life Management Systems

    Failure of a large transformer can cause a blackout to thousands of customers and this project aims to develop a smart diagnostic system for transformers. the developed system will provide a comprehensive tool for providing accurate decision on operation and maintenance of transformers to safeguard the critical energy infrastructure of Australia.

    Funding: ARCLinkage Project
    Project Partners: Energex, Ergon Energy, Powerlink Australia, TransGrid
    Chief Investigator: Professor Tapan Saha
    Other Investigators: Dr Hui Ma, Dr Chandima Ekanayake
    PHDStudents: Yi Cui, & Jeffery Chan, MPhil Student: Junhuyck Seo

    Investigation of Stability and Power Quality Issues from the Wide Spread Photovoltaic Integration into Electricity Distribution Networks

    Large scale photovoltaic penetration has been gaining momentum in many countries, including Australia, due to the concerns on climate change and energy independence. This project addressed two key technical barriers associated with photovoltaic integration into the grid and will provide a practical solution for improved power supply stability and quality.

    Funding: ARCLinkage Project
    Project Partners: Ingenero Pty Ltd
    Chief Investigators: Professor Tapan Saha, Dr Mithulananthan Nadarajah, Dr Ramesh Bansal
    PHDStudents: Jalil Yaghooby & Annapoorn Chidurala

An Investigation of the Impacts of Increased Power Supply to the National Grid by Wind Generators on the Australian Electricity Industry

The aim of this project is to discover the most economical and effective way to accommodate large increases in wind power into the national grid and to understand the effects on the national electricity market. This is crucial to ensure stability of electricity supply and affordable prices in the transition towards a low carbon economy.

Funding: ARCLinkage Project
Project Partners: AGLEnergy Ltd, Clean Energy Council Limited, Suzion Energy Australia Pty Ltd, TRUenergy Pty Ltd, Vestas International Wind Technology A/S
Chief Investigators: Professor John Foster, Associate Professor Hamish A McGowan, Professor Zhao Y Dong, Professor Tapan Saha
PHDStudents: Nahid Al-Masood, Mehdi Mosadeghy

Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence

Throughout the world, developed and developing nations are seeking sustainable energy solutions to the growing and complex needs of industry, government and communities of all types. The ultimate energy source would be emission-free, abundant, price-competitive, long-term and be able to deliver reliable base-load power.

Together, the Centre team and its collaborators will have expertise to meet the key challenges posed by the Centre's ambitious vision. These are:

  • Optimum energy extraction and sustainable resource management
  • Efficient power conversion. The Centre will explore radically new options based on synergies with other generation technologies, especially solar-thermal and natural gas augmentation. It will also review possibilities which have been proposed in earlier research.
  • A cooling system for desert zone in the world's driest inhabited continent. This will demand extreme efficiency at condensing the working fluid. As advances in colling have benefits for conventional power plants, innovative platforms for cooling systems will be a significant focus of the Centre.
  • To resolve transmission issues inherent to a power plant which is located more than 500km from major load centres and the national grid.

Funding: Queensland Government
Chief Investigator: Professor Tapan Saha
ResearchStaff: Dr Mehdi Eghbal (Now with Energex)
PHDCompleted: Dr Kazi Nazmul Hasan, Dr Mai Nguyen

Optimum Location of FACTSDevices with Advanced Control Scheme for Improving the Security of Complex Power Grid

Prevention of blackouts is one of the highest priorities of the electricity industry. One of the fundamental reasons for the recent blackouts in long transmission networks is inter-area oscillations. Queensland's long transmission network is a vital part of the Australian electricity grid and is vunerable to inter-area oscillations. There is a need for a comprehensive approach to investigate the effect of inter-area oscillation that contributes to blackouts. Focussing the Queensland network, this project will provide a complete assessment tool for the optimum location of FACTS devices with modern and advanced control schemes in improving the security of complex interconnected power-grid.

Funding:ARCLinkage Project
Project Partners:Powerlink Queensland
Chief Investigators:Professor TapanSaha
PHDCompleted:Dr Robert Chang, Dr Nilesh Modi

Control Methodologies of Distributed Generationfor Enhanced Network Stability and Control

The project proposed here addressed the key issues, related to the integration of distributed generations, centrally controlled, in the National Electricity Market. It is expected that increasing amounts of new technologies in the form of distributed generations (DG) will be introduced in electrical power systems in the coming years. The emphasis on power generation from renewable sources leads to the development of technologies, such as solar panel, wind turbines and wave energy power plants. DGunits can be connected closer to customers and hence transmission and distribution costs can be significantly reduced. The latest technology has made plants available (in particular wind farms), that have high efficiency and ranging in capacity from 10kw to 15mw. The liberalisation of the electricity market contributes to creating opportunities for new utilities in the power generation sector.

As long as the penetration level of these new technologies in power systems is still low and they only cover a small fraction of the system load, they have little impact on the dynamic behaviour of a power system. Therefore, in power system long-term dynamics and transient stability studies, they are normally considered as negative load and their intrinsic dynamics are not taken into account. However, if the amount of new generation technology introduced in a power system becomes substaintial, it will significantly influence the overall behaviour of the system. Penetration level (MV and voltage), location and proper model of the distributed generation will be important factors in the analysis of dynamic behaviour of power systems. The goal of the research is to investigate the impacts of DG on power system transient, small signal and long term stability.

Funding: CSIRO, Intelligent Grid-Energy Transformed Flagship
Project Partners: CSIRO, The University of Queensland
Chief Investigators: Professor Tapan Saha, Dr Mithulananthan Nadarajah
Research Staff: Dr Jahangir Hossain (Now with Griffith university)

RHDCompleted: Dr Tareq Aziz, Dr Sudarshan Dahal

Investigation ofKeyFactors Affectingthe Polarisation Based Diagnostics of Power Transformers
Electricity utilities are currently facing a majorproblemwith an ageing populationof power transformers. Anumber of recently developed polarisation based diagnostics produce sensitive indicationsof ageing and moisture in transformers. However, there is no suitable interpretation procedure available to separate the impacts of moisture and ageing by-products on these diagnostics. A number of innovative laboratory and field experiments will be performed to understand the mechanism of ageing and the end of life characteristics. The outcome will assist engineers and managers in making correct decisions on the maintenance and replacement strategies of aged transformers to avoid major power interruptions.
Funding:Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
Project Partners:The University of Queensland, Powerlink, Connell Wagner, Energy Australia
Chief Investigator:Professor Tapan Saha
Research Staff:DrChandima Ekanayake, Dr Hui Ma
PHDCompleted: Dr Raj Jadav

Recent Past Projects
Innovation in Power System Asset Management
This project entails developing distributed, internet connected equipment, services and a business model to help the power industry deliver electrical power more reliably. This project will develop a commercial system for transformer and other critical asset condition monitoring and reporting. This project will complete the research and development of equipment and techniques that will underpin a commercial service to the global power industry.
Funding: The University of Queensland (VCStrategic Funding Scheme)
Project Partners: The University of Queensland
Chief Investigator: Professor Tapan Saha
Research Staff: Dr Hui Ma, Ian Greg, Dr Chandima Ekanayake
PHD Student: Mr Raj Jadav

Past Projects

Condition Assessment of Medium-Voltage XLPE-Insulated Cables Degraded by Water Treeing
In Australia, degraded underground XLPE cables are causing disruption of electricity supplies and high community costs. There is no reliable non-invasive technique for predicition of cable condition to optimise cable replacement and refurbishment. In this project, a large scale experiment is in progress on 22kv cables to ascertain the effectiveness of a new cable refurbishment technology. New techniques for assessment of cable condition will be developed using unique data from the ageing experiment and computer models of fundamental phenomena. Successful conclusions from this project will save the industry partner and other electricity distribution companies tens of millions of dollars.
Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
Project Partners: Ergon Energy, QUT, The University of Queensland
Chief Investigators: Professor Tapan Saha, Associate Professor David Britwhistle and Dr J Lyall
Research Staff: Dr Bolarin Oyegoke, Dr Andrew Thomas, Dr Frith Footit

Investigation of Demand Diversity and New Generation Entry into Electricity Market Simulation Tools
The aim of this project is to investigate demand diversity and appropriate new generation entry into market simulation tools to ensure reliable and economic market operations. When assessing proposals for new generation investments in the National Electricity Market, prospective investors need to forecast future market outcomes by using appropriate simulation tools. Currently there is no literature addressing various aspects of market simulation techniques and models. It is important to understand whether the differences in modelling options and simulation techniques materially affect the simulation results. This proposal aims to provide unique tools for generation augmentation considering demand diversity in different NationalElectricity Market regions.
Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
Project Partners: Powerlink, TransGrid, NEMMCO, ESIPC, Transend, The University of Queensland
Chief Investigator: Professor Tapan Saha and Dr Z. Y. Dong
Research Staff: Dr Jagath Fonseka, Dr. Carla Zieser, Dr Kin Onn Wong

Advanced Planning Tools for the Prevention of System-Wide Blackouts of Large Power Systems
Power systems are large, non-linear, interconnected and complex systems. World wide deregulation of the power industry has only heightened their complexity. The recent drastic blackouts of North America, UK and Italy caused enormous financial losses within both the power utilities and the general community. Many factors can precipitate blackouts including equipment malfunction, insufficient transmission infrastructure, major system disturbances and / or voltage instability. This project will investigate advanced planning tools in assessing the conditions required for secure and stable operation of electricity systems. Project outcomes will lead to a comprehensive technical approach to prevent major blackouts in Australia.
The research group will investigate the mechanisms of system wide blackouts of a large scale power system in a deregulated environment. This includes advanced techniques for the analysis of power system stability with the advantages of a new technology 'PowerformerTM' under a probabilistic framework for security assessment. The outcome will be a comprehensive technical approach to prevent major system wide blackouts. As a result of the project,researchers will be abletoprovide recommendations for the operation and management of independent power system operators and government authorities in the power industry to strategically prevent blackouts. The research particularly targets the National Electricity Market of Australia, which supplies four eastern states and the national capital. Techniques developed in this project will be equally useful to other power systems as well.
Funding: Australian ResearchCouncil Discovery Grant
Chief Investigators: Professor Tapan Saha, Dr Z. Y. Dong and Professor G. Ledwich
Research Staff: Dr Rui Yan

Emergency Control of Power Systems
Major power system blackouts are a low probability, high impact event. The present responses from power system operators are able to avoid most predictable events. When more unexpected events occur, the best response and the appropriate level need to be determined quickly. The integration of new tools for dynamic control and automated processes for emergency control, offer a unique opportunity to reduce vulnerability and to limit the potential for one failure to trigger another. This project appraises the network points which are most stressed and determines the combination to relieve that stress without an excessive impact on customers.
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant
Project Partners: The University of Queensland, QUT
Chief Investigators: Professor G. Ledwich, Dr Z. Y. Dong and Professor Tapan Saha
Research Staff: Mr Victer Ching, Dr Jason Ford

Investigations into the Impact of Electricity SystemRequirements on the Design of Powerformer
In 1998, ASEA-Brown Bovery (ABB), unveiled a new type of generator capable of producing electricity directly at transmission voltages as high as 400kv. ABBhas named the new high voltage generator the 'PowerformerTM'. The main aim of the project was to carry out technical studies of the interaction between the Powerformer and electricity systems, with particular reference to Queensland and national systems. The research aimed:
  • To determine how the Powerformer's parameters may be designed and chosen to assist system reliability and security, especially in the area of voltage stability
  • To investigate how the introduction of Powerformer affect the performance of the whole system under fault conditions, with the ultimate goal being the selection of optimal design characteristics for application of Powerformer in Queensland
  • To complete cost-benefit studies for Powerformer in the Queensland system, based on outcomes of the preceding two areas of work
Funding: Australian Research Council SPIRTScheme
Project Partners: Powerlink, ABB, Alstom Power, Tarong Energy, Stanwell Corp, CSEnergy, The University of Queensland
Chief Investigators: Professor Tapan Saha, Emeritus Professor Mat Darveniza
Research Staff: Dr Craig Aumuller, Dr John McDonald, Dr Tika Limbu

For further information, please contact Professor Saha on +61-7-3365 3962 or by Email.

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