KU Leuven is a world-leading university, recognized as the most innovative in Europe (Reuters), where we combine top level academic research with innovation and knowledge transfer with industry. Within the Electa division at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) at KU Leuven, and the research center EnergyVille, the research team led by prof. Dirk Van Hertem focuses on HVDC grid protection and planning and operation of future power systems, with a focus on DC systems. The group related to protection has a mix between senior experts and PhD students and consists of about 10 people.
In this scholarship you will work closely with NKT Germany. NKT is a company that connects a greener world with high-quality power cable technology and takes centre stage as the world moves towards green energy. NKT designs, manufactures and installs low-, medium- and high-voltage power cable solutions enabling sustainable energy transmission. Since 1891, NKT has innovated the power cable technology building the infrastructure for the first light bulbs to the megawatts created by renewable energy today.

The position is part of the ADOreD (Accelerating the Deployment of Offshore wind using Dc technology) project. ADOreD is one of the largest industrial doctoral networks contributing to the decarbonization of electric power system via developing the most appropriate models and methods for a coordinated approach to offshore renewable connections. Six academic and 12 industrial beneficiaries will recruit and train 19 doctoral candidates performing research on topics spanning offshore wind, HVDC technology and grids and interactions between AC and DC systems. ADOReD is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research & innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101073554. 

In accordance with MSCA Doctoral Networks, candidates must comply with mobility rule: you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before your recruitment date. This may require that the candidate will have to move to another country during that period. 

Underground cables are expected to form the bulk part of the transmission lines in a future (largely offshore) HVDC grid. Large-scale HVDC grids are becoming a possibility given that rated cable voltages, and hence, transmission capabilities, have gone up dramatically in the past decades, thanks to better dielectrics and cable designs. With those developments an increased focus is put on new system performance requirements towards cables and resulting potential impact on long term operability.  Typical questions are related e.g. to how voltage stresses due to contingencies within the HVDC grid look like and how they may affect cable performance.  Another example is the possible interactions between HVDC grid protection and occurrence of voltage stresses, which are at present not fully characterized. The objective of this PhD is on the one hand to identify the voltage waveforms that may be applied to a HVDC cable in a HVDC grid situation and on the other hand to relate these voltage waveforms to the cable performance respectively cable degradation mechanisms. A second part of the PhD should deal with observation and measurement of new imposed requirements, respectively their potential impact onto the cable system, and exploit these findings for providing potential monitoring actions. 


Do you want to be involved in the green energy transition? Do you wish to contribute to the development of wind energy and are you looking for a career in R&D or academia, then we have an opportunity! 

We are looking for a highly motivated and skilled candidate to join us as PhD scholar. 

As the ideal candidate:

  • You have obtained a MSc. Degree in electrical engineering with a solid background in power system and high-voltage engineering, from a reputable institute.
  • You have not been a resident of Germany or Belgium for more than a year in the past three years.
  • You are communicative and motivated to work in a team with activities centered on HVDC and cable systems.
  • You have experience with relevant power system simulation software, with a focus on electromagnetic transient simulation (e.g. PSCAD, EMTP-rv, …). Experience with programming in Matlab or Python is a plus.
  • You have experience with multi-physics simulations software (FEM) with focus on electrical field and thermal performance simulation (e.g. Comsol,…)
  • You have an interest in learning about measurement techniques, related equipment and data analysis thereof.
  • You are able to communicate fluently in English, both orally and in writing. Knowledge of the Dutch or German language is a plus.
  • You are willing to perform your PhD in an international setting, working both at KU Leuven and NKT Germany, with an additional placement of three months within one of the partners of the doctoral training network.

We offer an exciting job in one of the leading research institutes in the field and a top supplier in a technology that is key to the development of the sustainable grid of the future. HVDC technology is receiving significant attention from both academia and industry. This project allows you to work in an inspiring environment within a team of enthusiastic colleagues on a highly timely research topic.