Research Group

Electrical Power and Control Systems

Research activities

The Electrical Power & Control Systems Research Group is associated with the University of Birmingham Institute for Energy Research and Policy. The research activities include

  • Technologies for smart grids
  • Application of power electronics such as FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission System) and HVDC in transmission and distribution systems
  • Integration of PHEVs into power grids
  • Super AC/DC power grids for large scale renewable energy delivery
  • Protection and control of distribution networks with distributed generation
  • Micro-generation and Micro-grid
  • Smart metering and wide area monitoring and awareness
  • Power system economics
  • Large scale power system optimisation and planning
  • Analysis and control of power system stability
  • Power quality and harmonics

Research facilities

The electrical power and control systems research group consists of two laboratories, namely, real-time power grid simulation, control and protection lab, and micro smart grid lab. These two labs provide the facilities for the efficient operation and control of Smart Grids with distributed power generation or large renewable generation.


Large scale integration of renewable distributed generation into the power grid has significant potential to both reduce carbon dioxide emissions and provide secure and resilient power. The current UK grid is largely a one way system with power generated in large power stations and distributed through transmission and distribution lines, with no storage capability. The current system requires power generators to provide excess generation capacity to meet peak demands. The alternative is to develop smart grid systems which integrate power generation with the grid and with consumers through an intelligent communication system. Advanced and unique facilities based at the University of Birmingham – funded by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the Birmingham Science City initiative – are being used to further the understanding of the operation, control and management of smart grid systems powered by energy from distributed sources.

The facilities comprise of the following key pieces of equipment:

  • A smart power grid and real-time simulator that provides the capability to realistically simulate smart power grids with the integration of distributed power generation including wind, wave and fuel cell generation systems;
  • Monitoring and control capability as well as real-time information integration, monitoring, protection and closed-loop control functions;
  • Novel VSC HVDC simulations and control.

The laboratories can be used for research on:

  • Operation and control methods for power grids;
  • Control techniques for distributed energy generation and interconnection;
  • Controllers and protection devices and algorithms for individual components; and
  • Technical barriers to the integration of renewable energy generated from distributed sources in to the power grid.

The electrical power and control systems research group has been working with companies such as National Grid, Western Power Distribution, E.ON, ALSTOM Grid, etc. We are keen to develop new partnerships, both nationally and internationally.

Academic staff

  • Prof. Xiao-Ping Zhang – Head of the electrical power and control systems research group, Director of the Institute for Energy Research and Policy

Research staff

  • Dr J. Li
  • Dr Y. Xue

Research students

  • Ms. C. Li
  • Miss C. Yang
  • Mr. F. Weng
  • Mr. H. Fu
  • Mr. J. Luo
  • Mr. L. Luo
  • Mr. M. Li
  • Mr. M. Ou
  • Mr. M. Xie
  • Mr. R. Guan
  • Miss X. Zhao

External professional activities

  • Editor, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
  • Editor, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems
  • Editor, IEEE Power Engineering Letters
  • IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer
  • Secretary of Technical Committee (TC) 6.3 Power Plants and Power Systems, IFAC – International Federation of Automatic Control
  • Co-Chair of the IEEE Power & Energy Society Working Group on Test Systems for Economic Analysis