PhD Position in Decision Support Tools for Grid Operators

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Electrical Engineering


KU Leuven boasts a rich tradition of education and research that dates back six centuries. The university’s basic research orientation has always been and will remain fundamental research. At the same time, the university remains vigilantly open to contemporary cultural, economic and industrial realities, as well as to the community’s needs and expectations. KU Leuven is currently by far the largest university in Belgium in terms of research funding and expenditure (EUR 455.1 million in 2015), and is a charter member of LERU. KU Leuven conducts fundamental and applied research in all academic disciplines with a clear international orientation. In the Times Higher Education ranking KU Leuven is ranked as the 12th European university, while in the Reuters Top 100 of the World’s most innovative institutions, KU Leuven is listed as the first European university. The ELECTA research group of the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) of KU Leuven performs research on aspects of generation, transmission, distribution and rational use of electrical energy. Topics covered are smart grids, reliable power systems with high penetration of renewable energy sources, HVDC and LVDC, energy markets, integration of renewable energy sources on transmission and distribution. Six professors lead the group. They manage the research assisted by 20 senior researcher / post-doc’s and more than 40 Ph.D. students. EnergyVille is an association of the Flemish research institutes KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt in the field of sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems. EnergyVille brings research, development, training and industrial innovation together under one name, in close cooperation with local, regional and international partners. EnergyVille strives to become one of the top five European institutes in innovative energy research. For that reason, the center was embedded in big national and international networks from the start.


PhD-1: Data driven optimization models for secure real-time operation of renewable dominated power systems

The application of data driven methods within the context of power system operations is becoming more and more important as classical optimization models fail to cope with large scale problems, especially in presence of uncertainty and discrete actions. Within the DISCRETE (Data driven optimization models for secure real-time operation of renewable dominated power systems) project funded by the Belgian Energy Transitions Funds and in cooperation with the University of Mons, we aim to improve the uncertainty representation within optimal power flow models.

PhD-2: Flexible operation of distribution networks

Within this work, a flexible operational framework for 3phase unbalanced low voltage ac networks is designed. In this context, the uncertainty around the availability of the flexible sources is modelled. Part of the work is carried out within the H2020 EUniversal project, which provides the opportunity to interact with a number of academic and industrial research partners.

PhD-3: Conceptual design of transnational HVDC networks

To reach the goal of carbon neutrality for the industrial sectors will require significant upgrades in the electricity network to be handle the increased electricity demand of the industrial sites. Combined with the fact that it is envisioned that more than 200 GW of offshore wind power will be installed in the North Sea region by 2050, the need for bulk power transport will increase. Within this work, a fundamental conceptual design of such a bulk power network will be investigated, which could be an overlay network to the existing European power network, consisting of HVDC connection.

This work will be conducted within the TRILATE (TRILateral research for optimal Investments in Adequate cross-border infrastructure) project funded by the Belgian Energy Transition Funds and will provide the opportunity to interact with a number of industrial and academic research partners.


For PhD-1 and PhD-2:

  • You have a Master of Science degree in operations research, computer sciences, power systems or electrical engineering
  • You have a solid background in mathematical optimization (convex programming, mixed-integer programming), probabilistic methods (sampling & clustering methods, uncertainty propagation), and affinity for machine learning techniques
  • You have knowledge of one or more modelling tools for optimization problems, such as Julia (preferred), Python, AMPL, GAMS, Matlab, ....

For PhD-3:

  • You have a Master of Science degree in electrical power systems or power electronics
  • You have strong knowledge of HVDC technology, power system grounding and protection
  • You have knowledge of one or more modelling tools for optimization problems, such as Julia (preferred), Python, AMPL, GAMS, Matlab, ....

For all positions:

  • You have a Masters degree preferably from a reputable institute from a country within the European Economic Area.
  • You should have obtained excellent study results.
  • You should have the ambition to become a junior expert in the relevant topic and be highly motivated for a 4 year PhD project.
  • You are interested to work in a team with experts studying different aspects of power systems.
  • You should be willing to occasional travel in framework of the project.
  • Your willingness to support teaching activities of the research team is essential.
  • You are able to communicate fluently in English, both orally and in writing. Knowledge of the Dutch language is a plus.


  • The starting date for all position is as soon possible,
  • A doctoral scholarships (fully funded) for four years (net monthly salary of about ~ €2,000)
  • A PhD degree in Engineering (after about 4 years of successful research) from Europe's most innovative university
  • Multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.)
  • The opportunity to be active in an international research environment within a team of young and enthusiastic researchers
  • Opportunity to work in a new research laboratory with state of the art infrastructure (
  • Engage in research collaborations and participate at international conferences


For more information please contact Mr. Hakan Ergun, tel.: +32 16 32 10 42, mail:

Please indicate the topic of interest when applying.

The selected candidates are expected to start no later than mid 2022.

You can apply for this job no later than October 15, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Genk
  • Apply before: October 15, 2021
  • Tags: Ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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