Hydro Power, Transmission and Distribution

Bildet viser strømmaster utover et jorde.

Hydro Power may be seen as the most valuable renewable energy source available. Hydro Power can be stored in magazines and can be produced at the same time the customer need it. The control of hydro power is easier than most other energy sources. Reliable transmission and distribution of power is very important in our modern society as we need high quality electricity with correct voltage and frequency.


One main research activity is to find methods to produce more electrical power from the Norwegian hydro power system. This may be achieved by mathematical models or improved measuring techniques. It is also important to ensure reliable transmission and distribution of electrical power to all customers. Many components in the grid may be highly stressed, e.g. high temperatures. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has made regulations on allowable maximal temperatures in specific components. An ongoing project is about how changes in geometry may reduce the maximum temperature to be inside the IEC regulation.


At the moment we have fruitful cooperation with:

  • Skagerak Kraft
  • Statkraft
  • ABB Power Products division
  • Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology (NVKS)
  • Energi Norge

Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology (NVKS) administrate HydroCen. HydroCen is a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME). The FME scheme is established by the Norwegian Research Council. USN’s R&D-group Hydro Power, Transmission and Distribution is member of the HydroCen, Work Package (WP) 2, Turbines and Generators during 2016-2024. The goal of HydroCen is to double the hydro power value in Norway by 2050.

Ongoing research projects

The main objective is to improve the thermal performance of medium voltage distribution switchgear. Computer modelling and optimized design of critical components is applied in order to reduce heat dissipation in contacts and conductors and to improve the heat transport to surroundings.

Modelling and simulation of hydro power systems with the help of the modelling language Modelica. This includes models of the water way and of the electrical power systems including electrical distribution.

Flexible production of electric energy depends on hydropower production, where the generator plays a key role. The main objective of the ongoing research project
(SmartHYGEN) is to propose and implement more flexible use of hydrogenerators, based on digital twin contents, and real-time monitoring and control. During a power system disturbance, a generator may need to operate beyond its limits to maintain stable operation.

A new online low-order thermal model of a hydrogenerator has been developed, and the periodic extension of the long-forgotten capability diagram of the machine was in-depth investigated.

This research combines the use of Nonlinear Model Predictive Controller (NMPC)  with an Unscented Kalman Filter (UKF) with a modeling framework geared for use
in a supervisory control structure for the conventional control system. The method provides a maximum utilization of the machine's thermal capacity by providing the controller an updated Enhanced Capability Diagram (ECD) online.

Sensors and actuators for turbine pipes. The research is focused on: i) developing sensor networks for online monitoring of fouling build-up in turbine pipes, and ii) fundamental studies of electric field effects on energy loss in turbine pipes.

Fault Ride Through (FRT) capability of hydroelectric generating units will be investigated.

Another PhD-study is named ‘Power system analysis and balancing control impacts’. Adaption of Optimal Power Flow (OPF) in day to day operation of a Hydroelectric dominated power system as in Norway. The motivation for the introduction of OPF in system operation is the possibility to optimize production of reactive power to minimize transmission network losses. Further guidelines for development of a market system for reactive power should be proposed so that relevant sharing of the added value; i.e. reduced cost of transmission losses, between generation and transmission occurs.