I was initially attracted to this role because I like the mix of research and teaching that working at a university provides. You get to encourage people who are just getting their first experiences of electrical engineering, through to working with those who are pushing the boundaries of current power systems research. I've been at the University of Manchester since I started my undergraduate degree about 10 years ago. I never thought I'd stay at university for this long though. The University has really looked after me and given me lots of opportunities and as I progressed in my career I became more aware of how it was world-leading at the research in my field.
My research encompasses investigating how future power systems (20-50 years from now) will operate and try to come up with creative ways of using new technologies to keep the system secure and operational (avoiding blackouts). A big area of this work is looking at ways of quantifying the impact of uncertainty (like renewable energy sources) on the system.
My role day to day can involve lots of different aspects from holding tutorials with undergraduates, discussing and shaping research with postgraduate students and research associates, lecturing, meeting with industrial partners on projects, writing research papers or new grant proposals, or even interviewing potential new students. Usually not all on the same day though.
It's great to talk about your research with people from all around the world. It's not a huge field, but there's lots of research happening internationally as lots of power systems are facing the same issues. It can be very interesting to see the similarities and differences between power systems around the world.
Working on large transmission systems, it's great to have National Grid as a partner in much of the research I do. They provide great insight into the intricacies of running practical power systems, and are keen to learn lessons from the research outputs to turn them into standard business practice.
I hope that my work will help to ensure secure system operation in the future and will allow greater numbers of uncertain renewable energy sources to be connected to power systems. Fully understanding the impact of this uncertainty is vital to enabling greater renewable exploitation.
A real 'game changer' would be a very cheap, efficient, and compact energy storage device. You could instantly make all renewable generation controllable (rather than uncertain) and a lot of the security problems would disappear. There would still be a few issues here and there that would need some research though.