PhD opportunities

Decision support for the deployment of hydrogen technologies at the scale of a territory

Thesis proposal

Area of expertiseEnergtique et gnie des procds
Doctoral SchoolSystems Engineering, Materials, Mechanics, Energy
SupervisorM. Robin GIRARD
Co-supervisorM. Pedro Henriqu AFFONSO NBREGA
Research unitEnergy and Processes
Starting dateOctober 1st 2020
KeywordsEnergy transition, Hydrogen, Prospective studies, Planning, Investments optimization
The share of renewable electricity in energy mix is rising each year. The dependence of renewable production on meteorological conditions (solar irradiance, hydrological regimes, wind availability, etc.) is an obstacle which can be tackled by different solutions. These solutions act in different spatial and temporal scales, sometimes simultaneously: demand-side management, large scale network interconnection, mechanical or chemical electricity storage, conversion of electricity into methane, hydrogen or heat. In this context, and regarding other potential solutions, the future role of hydrogen systems is debated. Hydrogen can be produced by electricity by water electrolysis, but also from natural gas or other fossil or renewable fuels. Conversely, it can be used to produce electricity or natural gas, bringing flexibility to systems. Renewable pathways for hydrogen production can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution associated with a number of industries (chemistry, steel, fertilizers), transportation and even heating. Technical solutions such as electrolysers, high-pressure tanks or fuel cells that allow the use of hydrogen as an energy vector are getting more and more performant and accessible, with several demonstration and even commercial projects ongoing.

Scientific goals:
Given that context, the scientific goal is to implement quantitative decision-aid methods: (i) to assist different local actors in their planning or investment optimization activities, (ii) adaptable to a high number of different territorial contexts (iii) while integrating realistic models of technical solutions and system components. Although a detailed modelling is sought, the decision-aid approach must be technology-agnostic in order to provide unbiased results for a given technology.
Implementing such methods faces some challenges: (i) in the choice of input data and models allowing for the description of a particular case, with a tradeoff between detail level and adaptability; (ii) in the methods for proposing and optimizing alternative solutions in the form of scenarios based on the user objectives, taking into account the diversity of cases to be explored; (iii) in the presentation of the simulation results that must allow the user to make a free and enlightened decision and (iv) in the capacity to model in a generic way different territory types (cities, industrial basins, etc.) in order to make possible the application of the developed methodology in different contexts.

Approach Methods:
The first step will be a bibliography research and a technical and economic analysis of processes concerning the production, the storage, the transport and the usages of hydrogen, as well as their alternatives. In parallel, the candidate will need to apprehend previous work undertaken by PERSEE in related topics. These works contributed to the elaboration of different decision-aid tools for a territory (i) to optimize thermal building renovation and change in heating appliances for a group of buildings, (ii) to model electricity consumption for different appliances in the residential and tertiary sectors and (iii) to optimize power flow in an electrical network. Then, different technological solutions considered for planning will be modelled. For some of those solutions, existing models will be taken from the literature. Model development will require the definition and collection of input data and the modelling of system components including hydrogen solutions (electrolysers, fuel cell vehicles, refueling stations, for instance) with particular attention to boundary conditions (exchange with other territories, regulations and economic context, technical evolution and costs). An application to a real case study will complete that work, that will be supported by the expertise of both PERSEEs research groups: ERSEI (Renewable Energies and Smart Electric Systems) for the modelling of power demand, distribution network planning, optimization and modelling of uncertainty on renewable energy production; and MATPRO (Material and Processes for Energy) for hydrogen systems modelling.
Results: The result of this thesis will be a set of innovative methods for decision-aid at the territory level, as well as software tools implementing those methods. That will bring an original insight into the role of hydrogen in future energy systems and favor its deployment.
ProfileTypical profile for a thesis at MINES ParisTech: Engineer and / or Research Master - Good level of general and scientific knowledge. Good level of practice of French and English. Good analytical, synthesis, innovation and communication skills. Adaptability and creativity. Teaching skills. Motivation for research activity, in particular experimental. Coherent professional project.
Prerequisites (specific skills for this thesis): Basic knowledge of physics (thermodynamics, matter and energy balances, electrical engineering), as well as a good knowledge of the energy field in general. Skills in applied mathematics and computer programming (i.e. in Python, MATLAB and / or R) are also required. Knowledge of the hydrogen industry is a plus. The candidate must be motivated by teamwork and contact with external actors / partners (companies, communities, etc.).

To apply: send CV + a cover letter to Robin GIRARD
FundingConcours pour un contrat doctoral
Partnershipen cours de discussion - contrat doctoral ou CIFRE