PhD Studentship in Cybernetics Delivering Sustainable Energy Solutions in Ports: Modelling power flows of local network between crane/flywheel

Supervisors:  William Holderbaum & Victor Becerra

Project Overview:  Ports are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions as they have to move up to 10,000 containers a day from ship to road or rail transport and correspondingly in the reverse direction from land transport onto ships. The aim of the project is to identify sustainable energy solutions which enable ports to manage transient power flows and maintain power quality in a way that will substantially reduce primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. 

The project involves measuring and modelling of energy flows inside two large container ports, Felixstowe and Valencia and quantifying the transient power flows associated with raising and lowering containers. The project will then explore the potential of local energy storage to manage transient power flows inside the port and to identify and trial power management solutions to minimise demand from the grid or diesel generating sets. 

The PhD studentship is one of two offered through the Climate KIC: “SUSPORT’ project (delivering sustainable energy solutions to ports) which involves multiple industrial partners (CRESS, Port of Felixstowe, Port of Valencia, and RHDHV). 

The PhD research will involve describing the transient behaviour of the network including container cranes equipped with flywheel energy storage at the Ports of Felixstowe and Valencia. A set of 5 electric RTG cranes supplied by a feeder from a substation will be the basis of this work, which has the following objectives:

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  • To model power flow to and from the local substation and between the cranes and the substation.
  • To determine energy cycles of the cranes using information obtained from smart meters embedded in each crane.
  • To build and validate a transient simulation model of the port power system, including cranes, loads, energy storage, local generation, under the Matlab/ Simulink environments
  • To simulate transient power flows of the power systems of cranes with and without storage and to develop novel methods for analysis of power quality under normal, transient and faulty conditions.


  • Bachelors (at least 2.1 or equivalent) or Masters Degree  with Electrical Power Engineering, Electronics, Embedded Systems, Control Systems, Computing and Mathematics as major subjects.
  • Experience in power systems, modelling, control and programming in Matlab/Simulink environment is highly desirable.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU. 

Funding Details:   

  • Maintenance allowance of £15,600 per year
  • UK/EC tuition fees covered
  • Three year programme
  • Starts  – January 2014

How to apply:   1) To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Cybernetics at the apply button below. 

*Important note* Please quote the reference ‘GS13-174’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

2) After submitting your application you will receive an email to confirm receipt; email should be forwarded along with a covering letter and full CV to Dr William Holderbaum ( by the application deadline.

Application Deadline: 2 December 2013

Interview date for selected candidate: 12 December 2013

Further Enquiries:   Dr William Holderbaum, tel: +44-(0)-118-378-6086, email, or Professor Victor Becerra, tel: +44-(0)-118-378-6703, email

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

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