PhD Elevate Scholarship - CQUniversity and Sunshine Hydro Pty Ltd (Advanced Control Strategies for Hybrid energy Platforms) (External)

Sunshine Hydro announced their $2bn 'Flavian' (Indigenous name: Djandori) pumped hydro and green hydrogen project earlier in 2022, located within the Central Queensland Renewable Energy Zone. The project location is near Miriam Vale and in proximity to Gladstone, Queensland. The final investment decision (FID) targets 2025 and renewable energy production from 2028. Sunshine Hydro’s technology readiness plan will further develop, operationally test and demonstrate critical hardware and software technologies. Two scenarios are proposed where novel, fast-acting control strategies are necessary and must be developed and proven. Sunshine Hydro proposes a novel start-up & shutdown system for power generation and loads where they will operate an electrolyser in parallel to Hydrogen manufacture. Varying the electrolyser's power in tandem with pump/turbine operations allows the synthesis of a linear ramp. This strategy is effective in terms of CAPEX and creates revenue opportunities from the electrolyser. Additionally, ramping the power supply as required will be essential to maintain grid frequency (stability) within the expected limits, especially critical as renewable energy replaces the existing base load. A physical demonstration-scale system using industrial control hardware and representative equipment items will 1) achieve proof of concept to regulatory stakeholders and 2) system refinement and optimisation prior to full-scale commercial deployment. The above two challenging questions will be addressed in this PhD project. Government and private investment projects for pumped Hydro are well advanced and will play a significant role in energy transition and the transformation of Qld's economy. This scholarship is an exciting opportunity to work closely with a major commercial developer on advanced, world-leading technology. The skills and expertise developed by a successful candidate will be in high demand and applicable to many renewable energy developments.

Scholarship Value: $31,000 Stipend p.a. ($93,000 Total)

Length of Scholarship: 3 years

Number Available: 1

Opening Date: 24 October 2022

Closing Date: 10 March 2023

Study LevelPostgraduate (Research)
Year of StudyFuture; First year
Study RegionGladstone Queensland
Study ModeOn-campus
Study LoadFull time

In addition to meeting the enrollment criteria for PhD by Research of CQUniversity, the candidate must be available to undertake the research full-time while being based at CQUniversity Gladstone campus. The candidate should also be prepared to visit Sunshine Hydro and its sites when required. International applicants must be onshore in Australia to be eligible to receive this scholarship.

The successful candidate must have a degree in a relevant engineering or science discipline. They must have a proven track record of engaging in research/industry projects in undergraduate (and postgraduate, if any) specialisation. Prior experience being involved in the control of electrical machines and power systems, application of Artificial intelligence in control systems and optimisation-related projects, as well as optimisation techniques in general, will be an advantage. The candidate must demonstrate good verbal and written communication skills and be capable of working in teams in academic and industry environments. A track record of research publications and project reports showing good communication skills will be beneficial.

Globally we are in the early stages of another industrial revolution driven by clean energy demand. Australia is ideally placed to take advantage of this through a long-term commitment to technology innovation and deployment, workforce training, skills development, and translating knowledge and know-how into practical, commercial solutions. Gladstone and Central Queensland have immense advantages. We have the potential to become a global hub for the production of clean energy that will keep our existing industries competitive and create new local export opportunities. The pace of change is unprecedented, and CQUniversity is committed to playing a leading role in facilitating collaboration across governments, experts and industry and providing world-class research, training and support to the emerging Hydrogen and renewable energy sectors.CQU has formed a Hydrogen & Renewable Energy Research & Training centre to support the diverse and ambitious range of projects in Gladstone and the region. Analysis shows that the Central Queensland region is a globally advantaged producer of clean energy, specifically Hydrogen. This advantage has been recognised by the formation of the NERA Gladstone Hydrogen Cluster and the Federal contribution of $70m towards Gladstone hydrogen hub deployment projects. The centre is based in the attractive waterfront CQU Gladstone Marina Campus. Several research facilities are under development, an additional suite of Hydrogen Incubator spaces for process engineering, manufacturing and lab research is also becoming available. As a dual-sector university, CQU also trains production, instrumentation, and control technicians for the surrounding heavy industry.

Applications must include all necessary supporting documents. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applicants will need to supply the following supporting documentation:

  • Cover letter addressing selection criteria
  • CV
  • Certified copies of any qualifications
  • Transcript

Please email supporting documents to Dr Sanath Alahakoon (, Discipline Leader - Electrical Engineering

Candidates will be notified of the outcome by email.
CQUniversity and Sunshine Hydro Pty Ltd