Decarbonising industry: direct electrical heating using behind-the-meter PV



A PhD scholarship is being offered for this student project (one of two PhD scholarships being offered under this research project).

The research project aims to accelerate the uptake of large-scale PV in the industrial heating context through the development of direct electrical heating (DEH) components and simplified power electronics that enable cost reduction through reduced system complexity.  The proposed technology is based on DEH, where DC current from a PV system is passed directly through a resistive device, without a conventional inverter leading to major savings in the power electronics downstream of the solar PV.  Critically, behind-the-meter PV-DEH enables use of low-cost thermal energy storage.

The PhD project has experimental and modelling aspects.  Primarily, the candidate will work on development of the DEH system, including concept design, modelling and development including determining feasible/practical current, resistance, voltage and heat dissipation, electrical and heat transfer analysis, and geometric design of components.  Stand-alone benchtop-scale DEH devices designed for operation at >200°C will be tested, including direct coupling a PV-emulating electricity supply. Subsequently, a fully integrated system test at laboratory-scale will be developed and tested, including with a PV array, maximum-power-point-tracking/power electronics, and the DEH system.  Modelling aspects will include both detailed component models (electrical/thermal multiphysics and/or computational fluid dynamics simulations) and reduced-order system level models, taking advantage of ANU’s Modelica-based system simulation tool ‘SolarTherm’ for annual simulations of integrated PV, DEH, thermal storage and industrial integration.

Our School

The Australian National University (ANU) is one of the top universities in Australia and is ranked amongst the top 50 in the QS World University Rankings in terms of research quality. The School of Engineering (SoEN) in the ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics has an extremely strong research culture with outstanding performance in a wide range of fields including renewable energy, energy storage and systems engineering. This project will be supervised by Dr Joe Coventry, Dr John Pye, and two other members of an expert panel. The project involves strong collaboration with RMIT university, and the opportunity to work closely with industry partners.


Applications are open to domestic and international students. Applicants must hold a first class Honours degree or Master's degree in Engineering, Physics or a related field, and/or have relevant research experience.  As per the project description, the PhD project involves both electrical and mechanical engineering fields, so aptitude in both areas would be an advantage. Practical experience running experiments and numerical modelling ability would be valued. Applicants are advised to undertake a self assessment before applying.  To express interest in applying, please send a 1 page cover letter and CV (including results for relevant degrees) to Dr Joe Coventry and Dr John Pye by 31 January 2023. The scholarship has the same stipend and other conditions as a standard ANU PhD scholarship, but is available for commencement as soon as possible in 2023.

Background Literature

Keith Lovegrove, Dani Alexander, Roman Bader, Stephen Edwards, Michael Lord, Ahmad Mojiri, Jay Rutovitz, Hugh Saddler, Cameron Stanley, Kali Urkalan, Muriel Watt, Renewable Energy Options for Industrial Process Heat, 2019,

Paul Denholm, Josh Eichman, and Robert Margolis, “Evaluating the Technical and Economic Performance of PV Plus Storage Power Plants”, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2017, (

Jeffrey M. Gordon, Thomas Fasquelle, Elie Nadal, Alexis Vossier, “Providing large-scale electricity demand with photovoltaics and molten-salt storage”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 135, 2021,

Tomas Matuska, Borivoj Sourek, "Performance Analysis of Photovoltaic Water Heating System", International Journal of Photoenergy, Vol. 2017,2017.

Raghavendra, K.V.G.; Zeb, K.; Muthusamy, A.; Krishna, T.N.V.; Kumar, S.V.S.V.P.; Kim, D.-H.; Kim, M.-S.; Cho, H.-G.; Kim, H.-J. “A Comprehensive Review of DC–DC Converter Topologies and Modulation Strategies with Recent Advances in Solar Photovoltaic Systems”. Electronics 2020, 9, 31.

Kamran Zeb, Waqar Uddin, Muhammad Adil Khan, Zunaib Ali, Muhammad Umair Ali, Nicholas Christofides, H.J. Kim, “A comprehensive review on inverter topologies and control strategies for grid connected photovoltaic system”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 94, 2018,

Raveendhra Dogga, M.K. Pathak, Recent trends in solar PV inverter topologies, Solar Energy, Vol. 183, 2019,


Direct electrical heating, thermal energy storage, PV, industrial process heat, decarbonisation

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing