Life presents you with many challenges that seem impossible to overcome. But when push comes to shove, you are always capable of more than you think. This is also true for the energy transition. We keep on developing new strategies and technologies that can help us become independent of fossil fuels. I know that parts of my research will probably never be applied anywhere, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s all about persistence and pushing your limits.
You need to try many approaches, otherwise how do you know which one is the best? In the Electrical Sustainable Power Lab, we can create digital replicas of a power system and run real-time simulations on supercomputers. This allows us to test things that we could never try out on the actual power system because they might damage the grid. We can also run tests on power systems that have not yet been built. I would like our department to be known for these thoroughly tested products, so that organisations and other universities come to us for questions and use our benchmarked models.
For example, a couple of countries across the North Sea have plans to build a network of offshore wind power plants together. We can measure the actual wind speed at that location, and use these conditions to test a replica of the network. My research is focused on the controls for such a system, which should ensure that the network remains stable under all conditions. When there is an overgeneration of wind power, for example, the control should ensure fast redirecting of the energy towards a device capable of receiving it. Our power system replicas enable us to test various extreme scenarios that might occur, and to propose the solutions for these scenarios.
It is nice to work on something that has such an impact on our society, but I do it mostly because it is so interesting. I still have many ideas, and many mathematical approaches that I would like to try! And of course, many limits that can be pushed even further.