PhD/Postdoctoral Position in Power System Protection and Control in Digital Substations

Trondheim, Norway
04 Apr 2019
End of advertisement period
30 Apr 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has vacancies for two 100% positions as PhD candidate and one 100% position as post doctor at the Department of Electric Power Engineering The described positions are part of a new Norwegian Research Council KPN-project within the ENERGIX program with 9 industry/utility partners.

The project (ProDig) is multi-disciplinary, multi-vendor, PhD-incentive and international. In addition to the three announced positions, there will be one PhD at NTNU Dept. of Information Security and Communication Technology and one at Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

The position reports to the Head of Department.

Job description

Substations are critical nodes in the power system and consist of lines, transformers, generators, compensation equipment, switchgear and instrument transformers. In a substation, the power system is controlled and protected. The term digital substation describes a technology where classical copper wiring between instrument transformers, switchgear, protective relays and control equipment is replaced by a process bus Ethernet cable. The main advantages are smaller footprint (reduced wiring, and buildings), easier expansions (plug&play), simpler documentation and engineering and possible faster future upgrade. The challenges are related to the fact that this is new, unproven technology with new competence needs. Test pilots of digital substations are now being installed world-wide.

Modern intelligent electrical devices (IED) like protective relays can now communicate on process and station buses in a digital substation environment. Information from all instrument transformers and protective relays is available to all connected devices. This opens up new possibilities in central settings and fault record utilization for optimal performance, selectivity, fault location and adaptations. However, it also poses a threat to security and reliability, with new devices exposed to substation stress. What is sure is that this digital shift will require new knowledge and competence in both communication and power system behavior.

PhD1: Strategies for protection and fault location in digital substations

This PhD project aims at utilizing a digital substation and wide-area environment (providing more real-time information and observability due to more sensors) to improve protection and fault location schemes, particularly in complex, multiple-fault cases. Topics of interest are:

  • Detection and location of ground-faults in isolated or resonance grounded systems.
  • Fault location using distributed sensors and wide-area strategies
  • Protection and fault handling in complex fault situations, with possibly multiple faults
  • Utilization of the increased system observability for adaptivity of protection settings
  • Communication, self-healing, transient based protection

PhD2: Sensor technologies for digital substations

This PhD project is related to usage of non-conventional instrument transformers and sensors in digital substations. This is primarily optical current transformers with their merging units and fault indicators. A special concern is the interoperability of existing technology and new censors in differential protection schemes. Testing and qualification of non-conventional sensors in NTNU high current lab will be made. The Topics of interest are:

  • Non-conventional instrument transformer performance
  • Merging units, synchrophasors, sampled values precision and accuracy
  • Multi-vendor applications, interoperability
  • Application in relay protection
  • Wide-area disturbance identification

Post Doctor: Test procedures for fast digital substation upgrade

This post doctor project is related to developing test procedure for fast digital substation upgrades. Today a substation upgrade can take one year and hundreds of physical connections must be installed and tested. In a future digital substation environment, protective relays and controls can be tested offline in advance. This will require well-defined plans and procedures. Topics of interest are:

  • Automated commissioning, test procedures, plug&play
  • Reliability concerns when merging protection functions in fewer physical devices
  • Standardization, customer acceptance
  • Interoperability, confirming coordination, coordination software
  • HIL testing of protection systems

Qualification requirements

Applicants for the two PhD positions must hold a M.Sc. degree (or equivalent) within electrical engineering with good knowledge of power systems and relay protection.

Applicants for the Postdoctoral position must hold a PhD degree within power system protection and control. Publication and experience are merited. Sensitivity related to critical infrastructure issues will be considered. 

All applicants are required to submit a one-page research proposal within the proposed research area.

Applicants must provide evidence of good English language skills, written and spoken. If your first language is not English, the following tests can be used as documentation: TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:

  • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
  • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
  • CAE/CPE: grade B or A.

Personal characteristics

  • The ability to work in team and good communication skills will be emphasized in the employment process.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 449 400 per annum. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is for 3 years, and are expected to start in June 2019.  Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Electrical Power Engineering. Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU. See for information about PhD studies at NTNU.

As a PhD candidate, you will have to successfully complete the PhD academic training programme; the training includes mandatory course work and other obligatory activities. Within the first three months of your employment, you must formally qualify for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Postdoctoral candidates:

Postdoctoral candidates are remunerated in code 1352, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 515 200 per annum. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is for 2 years, and is expected to start in January 2020.

Appointments take place on the terms that apply to State employees at any time, and after the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Professor Hans Kristian Høidalen, hans.kristian.hoidalen@ntnu.n

About the application:

Applications are to be submitted electronically through this page (

Please refer to the application number 2019/6834 when applying.

The application should contain (all in one combined PDF file):

  • A project description (1-2 pages).
  • CV.
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree.
  • Publications relevant to the research scope and any other work which the applicant wishes to be taken into account should clearly state the applicant’s contribution. A short summary should be attached outlining the applicant’s input to joint work.
  • Names and contact information of at least two references.

Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

Application deadline: April 30, 2019.02.28.

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Electric Power Engineering

Our department is Norway’s leading university environment in the field, and our vision is to be at the centre of the digital green shift. We have excellent collaboration with business and industry as well as other academic environments internationally. This gives us outstanding opportunities for interdisciplinary research with high relevance to society, while we meet industrial needs and address global challenges at the same time. The Department of Electric Power Engineering is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Deadline 30.04.2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Trondheim

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