UK: PhD Studentship in Control of Energy Storage in Port Cranes at University of Reading

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Supervisors: William Holderbaum & Victor Becerra

Project Overview: Ports are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions as they have to move up to 10,000 containers a day from ship to road or rail transport and back. The aim of the project is to identify sustainable energy solutions which enable ports to optimise the operation of cranes, manage transient power flows within its electrical network and maintain power quality in a way that will substantially reduce primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.

The PhD studentship is offered through the Climate KIC: “SUSPORT’ project (delivering sustainable energy solutions to ports) which involves multiple industrial partners (CRESS, Port of Felixstowe, Port of Valencia, and RHDHV). In particular, the successful candidate will focus on developing and validating dynamic models of port cranes working together with the various terminal operators and their terminal operating systems. These models can then be used to identify strategies and how the use of storage can save energy/fuel/emissions and improve energy resilience. Moreover, the PhD student will develop novel control strategies to optimise energy flows inside each crane to minimise energy demand from the prime source and be involved in implementing and assessing such solutions. It will then be possible to determine the optimal amount of energy storage for each crane, and perform a cost/benefit analysis of increasing energy resilience and reducing energy demand of port cranes.

The student will have the opportunity to take part in Climate KIC activities including compulsory participation in ‘the Journey’ a summer school involving placements abroad and group activities with other students.


  • 2.1 honours degree, or MSc/MRes in relevant discipline e.g. Electrical Engineering, Control Systems, Power Engineering
  • Experience in power system simulation in Matlab/Simulink environment is highly desirable.
    • Demonstrate a capability to undertake and benefit from research training through to completion, to the standard necessary to qualify for a PhD
    • If English is not your first language IELTS 6.5+ overall and 5.5+ in all sections is required (Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking).


  • Cover annual tuition fees at Home/EU rate + annual stipend of approx. £15,600. Note that the additional fees that apply to international students are not covered.  Other motivated students can apply but need their own funding to cover the difference in fees.
  • Three year programme starting March 2014

How to apply:  Please submit an application for a PhD in Cybernetics  quoting ‘GS13-132 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box within the Funding Section of the application.

Application Deadline: Open until position filled

Further Enquiries:   Dr William Holderbaum, +44-(0)-118-378-6086,, or Professor Victor Becerra, +44-(0)-118-378-6703,

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria.

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