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INESC TEC researchers podiumed at the 2021 REN Awards

Researchers Fabien Heymann, Pedro Silva and Tiago Torres won the 26th edition of the REN Awards in the categories of best PhD thesis, best and second-best Master's theses, respectively.

17th December 2021

The researchers stood out for their contribution to the development of innovative solutions, ranging from the adaptation of grids to electric mobility and the integration of renewable energy sources, to the impact of energy storage in the electrical grid and efficiency of wind farms.

The ceremony, which took place on December 6, was attended by Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, João Galamba, Secretary of State for Energy, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, founder and president of Grupo IMPRESA, Rodrigo Costa, CEO of REN, and João Peças Lopes, full professor and chairman of the REN Awards Jury.

João Peças Lopes highlighted the importance of the REN Awards, which “rewards the merit and the work carried out at Portuguese educational institutions”, adding that “the development of solutions towards energy transition by the academia is crucial". Rodrigo Costa stated that the Awards value innovation, “crucial to the field of energy”. “By encouraging young people who think about the future of our country, we are contributing significantly to society”, he stressed

At the end of the event, Manuel Heitor highlighted the importance and innovative nature of the REN Awards, namely the granting of a new award, established in partnership with the Centro Ciência LP and the Foundation for Science and Technology, aimed at young people from Portuguese-speaking African countries.

 

Best PhD Thesis

Fabien Heymann did his PhD at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP). Entitled “Technology diffusion models in power system planning and policy design”, the work was supervised by Vladimiro Miranda, researcher at INESC TEC and full professor at FEUP, and co-supervised by Filipe Joel Soares, researcher at INESC TEC, and Pablo Dueñas, from MIT (USA). The thesis was submitted in May 2020 and approved in the Doctoral Program in Sustainable Energy Systems, within the scope of MIT Portugal.

The researcher analysed spatial and temporal patterns associated with the adoption of new technologies, such as PV or electric vehicles. Based on data from censuses in Portugal, more than 120 explanatory criteria were convened for people's propensity to adopt new technologies - which were later embedded in spatiotemporal models of diffusion. These models made it possible to characterise the dynamics of progressive adoption and to verify that classical models can substantially deviate in their forecasts, with an important impact on the planning of investments in the electricity sector.

Additionally, the thesis explored the influence of different incentive policies on the dynamic propagation of adoption processes, oriented towards different social and geographic classes, with important conclusions about the mistakes and effects that certain incentives can cause, both in terms of required investments and social asymmetries generated.

 

First prize for Best Master's Thesis

Pedro Silva developed the “OPF Robusto” project, under the guidance of Manuel Matos, a researcher at INESC TEC and full professor at FEUP. The OPF (Optimal Power Flow) is a tool that proposes an operating point for the electrical system, minimising the production costs, while complying with the limits of branches and other variables. When system loads (including non-dispatchable renewable generation) are uncertain, a robust solution is sought, for which any predicted variation in load capacities allows the realisation of an admissible production scenario. The thesis focused on the studying the creation of a more robust OPF, capable of addressing the uncertainties and variables of the production and consumption of renewable energy.

 

Second place for Best Master's Thesis

Tiago Torres worked under the supervision of Ricardo Bessa, senior researcher at INESC TEC, and co-supervision of Manuel Matos, in the dissertation “Comparison between traditional network reinforcement and the  use of DER flexibility”, whose objective is to develop a methodology for cost-benefit analysis when comparing the traditional planning of the electrical grid (strengthening lines, transformers, etc.) with a predictive management of consumption/production flexibility in solving technical problems. The work also made it possible to estimate the maximum costs that a TSO/DSO must pay for flexibility, as opposed to improving the electrical grid.

The REN Awards, established in 1995, are some of the oldest scientific awards granted in Portugal; their objective is to contribute to the development of the national energy sector. This prize is awarded every year to the best Master's theses in energy and every two years to the best PhD thesis. The amounts attributed to the first places range from €15K for the second-best Master’s thesis, €25K for the 1st prize in the Master’s category, and €30K for the best PhD thesis.

 

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and UP-FEUP.