First ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Gruenberg given to Dr. Jef Beerten

Dr. Jef Beerten from KU Leuven, Belgium, receives a US $ 300,000 grant over the next three years for ongoing research at the forefront of energy technology. Dr. Jef Beerten, of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and EnergyVille, postdoctoral fellow of Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Belgium, is the first recipient of the ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Gruenberg. At a ceremony in front of more than a hundred international researchers, Dr. Beerten was recognized for his doctoral thesis, “Modeling and Control of DC Grids.” He was chosen from 69 applicants from leading institutions around the world, representing a wide range of disciplines. Dedicated in honor of former ABB chairman Dr. Hubertus von Gruenberg, the award recognizes outstanding academic work in energy and automation and is accompanied by one of the highest research grants of its kind. It will be given every three years. “As the pioneering technology leader and global digital champion, we’re happy to support path-breaking research connected to the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “I congratulate Jef Beerten, whose work stands out for its applicability to real-world problems in the field of power and automation.” ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Gruenberg Switzerland’s highest research award, worth $300,000, is given for the first time. From left to right: Peter Voser, Chairman of the ABB Board of Directors; Professor Ronnie Belmans, KU Leuven; Hubertus von Gruenberg, former ABB Chairman; Jef Beerten, recipient of the award, KU Leven; Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB CEO; Bazmi Husain, ABB Chief Technology Officer. Jef Beerten’s dissertation offers new insights into phenomena governing the stability of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) grids interacting with existing HV alternating current (HVAC) grids. Point-to-point HVDC connections are already employed and offer a more efficient and cost-effective method for bulk long-distance power transmission. Meshed HVDC grids interacting with existing AC infrastructure offer a solution of efficiently and cost-effectively routing renewable energy to where it will be ultimately consumed. Current tools for studying large-scale (e.g. continental scale) power systems are however typically designed for understanding the behavior specific to AC grids. Jef Beerten has devised new tools, models, and methods for designing and controlling meshed HVDC grids, which use fast-switching power electronic converters for AC-DC conversion in order to improve the understanding of how today’s HVAC grids will interact with future HVDC grids. Jef Beerten earned his PhD degree in 2013 with congratulations of the Board of Examiners (highest honors at KU Leuven). He has been in the research group of Prof. Dr. Ronnie Belmans — his PhD adviser — for eight years as one of its core members. On being the award’s recipient, Dr. Beerten said, “I am proud and delighted to be able to accept this exceptional award. I would like to thank ABB for the grant and this unique opportunity to continue my work in the field of electric power systems. This new research challenges previous approaches to modeling, controlling, and operating electrical grids. It reminds us that we have to embrace these changes by challenging existing paradigms and thinking outside of the box.” With this research award, ABB is offering the next generation of researchers the necessary support to pursue their ideas and visions while working to develop and present innovative results to the international scientific and business communities The awardee decision was made by an international jury consisting of Prof. Robert Armstrong, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Prof. Ulrike Grossner, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zürich); Prof. Nina Thornhill, Imperial College London; Prof. Zheyao Wang, Tsinghua University, Peking; Bazmi Husain, Chief Technology Officer at ABB; and Dr. Hubertus von Gruenberg, chairman of the board of the ABB Group from 2007 to 2015. ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. For more than four decades, ABB is writing the future of industrial digitalization. With more than 70 million devices connected through its installed base of more than 70,000 control systems across all customer segments, ABB is ideally positioned to benefit from the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolution. With a heritage of more than 130 years, ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 135,000 employees.

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