PhD position in Power System Reliability Risk and Vulnerability Prognosis for Power System

Trondheim, Norway
16 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
27 Oct 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Department of Electric Power Engineering (IEL) has a vacancy for a 100% position as a PhD candidate within the field of Power System Reliability “Risk and vulnerability prognosis for power system development and asset management”.

The work of the PhD study is part of the research project led by SINTEF Energy Research, entitled “VulPro (Risk and vulnerability prognosis for power system development and asset management)”, which investigates  the influence of individual power system components on power system risk and how this information can help support the decisions of power system planners.

The prospective candidate will work in the research group Power System Operation and Analysis (PSOA) at the Department of Electric Power Engineering.

The main supervisor of the PhD candidate will be Associate Professor Vijay Venu Vadlamudi. In addition, co-supervisors from co-operating partners will be appointed. 

The position reports to the Head of Department

Duties of the position

Job description

The objective of the PhD education is to qualify for scientific research of high international standard. The PhD education has a nominal duration of three years of full-time study and includes required coursework or similar academic training comprising a minimum of 30 credits. The most important component of the PhD education is an independent scientific research project carried out under academic supervision, which results in the PhD thesis. The PhD degree is conferred based on these two elements and the doctoral examination, which consists of a trial lecture and a public defense of the scientific thesis.

The candidate is expected to fully complete the course work and the PhD thesis within the period of employment, which could be 3 or 4 years. The doctoral examination may take place after the period of employment. The option of 4-year employment would imply 1 year of duties as Teaching Assistant for the Department and may be offered to a candidate with clear motivation and ability for such work, if the Department sees the need. This will be clarified during and after any interview.

Project description

Power system planners are challenged by many decisions in their task to ensure an acceptable level of security of electricity supply for the end-users of the electric power system. These decisions span across different planning horizons, from short-term operational planning (e.g. for the next day), mid-term asset management (e.g. maintenance planning of over the next few years), and to long-term power system development (e.g. building new transmission lines over the next decades). To be able to make well-informed decisions, power system planners need information about the risk exposure and vulnerability of the power system and how it may develop over the planning horizon.

The concept of risk can be understood as a combination of what can happen (possible events), the likelihood of each event, and the consequence if they occur. In the context of security of electricity supply, relevant events include power system failures, possibly followed by interruption of end-user power supply. The expected cost of energy not supplied is a relevant example of a risk indicator. Vulnerability and reliability can both be understood as components of power system risk: Vulnerability is an internal characteristic of the power system that affects its risk of events that have very severe consequences but are associated with very low probabilities of occurring; reliability on the other hand is affected mostly by events with relatively high likelihood and can be broadly described as the ability of the system to supply power over an extended period of time.

One recurring challenge in power system risk analysis is to properly account for the condition and spatial location of individual power system components (e.g. a transformer station). Here there is a research gap associated with the lack of consistency between risk analyses carried out at an asset level (traditionally for asset management purposes) and at a power system level (traditionally for system development purposes): The former traditionally focuses on a single power system component but does not fully account for its importance in the power system for the security of supply; the latter takes a broader view but usually neglects how the condition of individual components influences the overall power system risk. Another important challenge is that component condition and other risk-influencing factors are associated with uncertainties, which develop with time. Better knowledge about these uncertainties will provide a more complete risk picture and also has the potential to help system planners to identify vulnerabilities associated with severe consequences to security of supply. 

The task of the PhD study is to specialize on selected topics in the handling of uncertainty and risk in the context of the project description. Relevant topics that may be addressed by the PhD candidate include:

  • methods for a broader characterization of power system risk (e.g. using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis or extended risk matrices) considering the trade-off between multiple risk indicators (e.g. expected costs of energy not supplied, vulnerability, uncertainty or strength of knowledge), 
  • sophisticated methods for sensitivity analysis and uncertainty quantification applied to power system risk prognosis or to component failure models
  • spatial dependencies of components' accessibility for maintenance and replacement after failure

Required selection criteria

The qualification requirement is completion of a Master’s degree with strong academic background with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in Electric Power Engineering with specialization in electric power systems and relevant to the given project description. Applicants with a specialization in mathematics or other fields (e.g., operations research, or reliability engineering and risk analysis) with strong focus on mathematics, may also be considered in special cases where the cover letter including the draft research proposal supports the claim for their suitability for the described position.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other qualifications:

Applicants must have very good English language skills, written and spoken. Applicants from non-English speaking countries outside EU/EEA/Switzerland must provide preliminary documentation of English language proficiency, in terms of an approved test. The following tests can be used: TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English. 

Further assessment of both written and oral English language skills and the ability to communicate fluently may be conducted in the continued selection process and during any interviews for all applicants, including those providing the required documentation of English proficiency

Personal characteristics

In the evaluation of the candidates, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as personal motivation for the position, in terms of the qualification requirements specified above. We are looking for candidates who show clear signs of independence, original thinking and scientific mindset.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, at gross NOK 479 600 per annum. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The employment contract is for three years; however, there is a possibility for extension to four years if selected for assistantship.

Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Electric Power Engineering. Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD candidates 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. 

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

The Department of Electric Power Engineering works closely with key players in the Norwegian electricity supply sector, who manage critical infrastructure. A comprehensive risk assessment of the candidates' research interests and potential activities related to national threat assessments will therefore also form basis for the final selection of candidates.

About the application

 The application must contain: 

  • A cover letter where the applicant describes her/his personal motivation and relevance with respect to the requirements of the advertisement.
  • A draft research proposal (1 or 2 pages) for the PhD study, where the candidate presents her/his own ideas for the PhD-work and how it can be applied, based on the project description given in this advertisement. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) which includes information about the candidate’s prior education, work experience, academic merits and any scientific publications.
  • 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 programme and grading system (
  • The required documentation of English language proficiency. 
  • Names and contact information of at least two references.

Emphasis will be placed on the quality of the cover letter and the ideas and/or originality of the draft research proposal in the shortlisting of candidates. Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

In the final assessment of the candidates, strategic considerations at the Department of Electric Power Engineering will also be taken into account. We aim for better gender balance, and when qualifications are approximately equal among qualified candidates, female applicants will be preferred.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

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. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

According to the Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Associate Professor Vijay Venu Vadlamudi ( or to the Head of Department Prof. Ole-Morten Midtgård (  

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

Application deadline: 27.10.2020

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.

Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

The Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering is Norway’s largest university environment in ICT, electrical engineering and mathematical sciences. Our aim is to contribute to a smart, secure and sustainable future. We emphasize high international quality in research, education, innovation, dissemination and outreach. The Faculty consists of seven departments and the Faculty Administration.

Deadline 27th October 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service NTNU Campus Gløshaugen

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