UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE SANTA CATARINA, BRAZIL
Research focus: control and automation engineering, microgrids, and renewable energy
As part of global strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emission, more and more renewable energy sources are becoming part of power grids. In Brazil, Marcelo’s home country, already more than 40 percent of electrical energy comes from renewable sources. And there is a huge potential to use even more renewable energy from sun, wind, and biomass. Especially in the sugarcane processing industry huge amounts of biomass waste are produced and can be used to generate electricity.
Marcelo started his scientific career by studying microgrids on sugarcane processing plants using biomass, sun, and wind energy. These plants can sustain themselves and are even able to sell any excess power to the network distributor. Marcelo’s part in this research project was to elaborate a mathematical model to describe these units and find ways to automatically manage the different energy sources and power consumers.
In order to control microgrids, observation and fault analysis are essential. To manage such systems, predictions using information on upcoming conditions such as weather forecasts for solar and wind power are necessary. For this purpose, Marcelo developed corresponding mathematical models. Controllers for microgrids are being planned on the basis of such models. Essentially, Marcelo aims to design automatic controllers that determine when to use, store, distribute, or convert each available renewable source so that the energy generation becomes continuous, since individual renewable generation can often be inconsistent and intermittent.
The jury was impressed by Marcelo’s practical approach to make the integration of renewable energy sources possible and less prone to errors. Control and automation engineering is of great importance to realise transitions to a more sustainable energy mix while minimising conversion difficulties. Marcelo’s work is of great relevance in this transition.