With the widespread adoption of renewable energy, the establishment of a European energy market, and the development of electric vehicles, energy transition is making great strides forward. Power grids are a key element in this changeover. They have to adapt to growing shifts in electricity supply and demand. Technological innovation is required to ensure secure electricity supply.

At the heart of smart grids

To meet the energy transition challenge, power systems have entered the ‘smart grid’ age. New technological solutions are being gradually introduced to manage grids which are becoming increasingly complex and more liable to risk and uncertainty. Automatic control makes an essential contribution in responding to these challenges. The new tools thus developed are improving system surveillance and monitoring whilst ensuring greater flexibility.

An innovative approach

The combination of automatic control and electrical engineering within the RTE-ECN Chair is a first. Bringing these two scientific disciplines together into a single research programme paves the way for an entirely new field of industrial applications. Research topics and projects are defined based on needs identified in the power system. The RTE-ECN Chair aims to develop relevant solutions, which are adapted to the grid operations, in the form of technology transfer.

An open eco-system

The RTE-ECN Chair joins an eco-system which is focussed on research and innovation. It draws on the support of the IRCCyN[1] and GeM[2] research institutes for material and human resources. Under the supervision of Centrale Nantes, these CNRS[3] research institutes have developed high level expertise in automatic control (IRRCyN) and stochastic modelling (GeM). Their involvement – tailored to foster interaction and flexibility – in the chair’s research activity is crucial.

Industrial applications

The RTE-ECN Chair has defined three distinct areas of research. These three topics share a common objective: to meet major industrial challenges and contribute to the definition of the smart grids of the future.

[1] IRCCyN Institut de Recherche en Communications et Cybernétique de Nantes -Communication and Cybernetics Research Institute of Nantes

[2] GeM Institut de Recherche en Génie Civil et Mécanique – Research Institute of Civil Engineering and Mechanics

[3] CNRS Centre national de la recherche scientifique – National Center for Scientific Research

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Topic 1: Modelling

Modelling power grids is essential to ensure electricity supply. The research work (dynamic model reduction, stochastic modelling) is focussed on factoring in the decentralised and random nature of renewable energy production as well as new loads like electric vehicles.

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Topic 2: Analysis/control/decision 

Energy transition is a paradigm shift for power grids, which were not designed with this in mind. Integrating numerous decentralised sources, direct current lines and power electronic convertors brings new technical problems. The research work is focussed on factoring in non-linearities, structural changes, grid assessment as well as co-ordinating control actions for the different components (HVDC, power electronics, etc.)

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Topic 3: Tool development

The growing complexity of power grids means that increasingly sophisticated  tools are required. The research work is focussed on calculation algorithms applicable to large scale systems, particularly for modal analysis.

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F. Plestan, Professor Centrale Nantes, IRCCyN
G. Lebret, Associate Professor Centrale Nantes, IRCCyN
A. Nouy, Professor Centrale Nantes, GeM
J-J. Loiseau, Research Director, CNRS-IRCCyN
P. Chevrel, Professor Ecole des Mines de Nantes, IRCCyN
F. Claveau, Associate Professor Ecole des Mines de Nantes, IRCCyN
E. Le Carpentier, Associate Professor Centrale Nantes, IRCCyN


J-B. Heyberger, R&D Engineer, Head of the Groupe “Integration of new technologies”
F. Xavier, R&D Engineer
M. Saugier, R&D Engineer
P. Panciatici, Scientific Advisor


Y. Chitour Professor Univ. Paris-Sud, L2S

L. Hetel, Researcher LAGIS-CNRS Lille
L. Friedman, Professor Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

PhD and R&D Engineers

M. Nacef
I. Munteanu

M. Belhocine

A. Swikir

K. M. Hoegan

Master positions

P. Violet, ENS Rennes

S. Vilette, Univ. Paris 6

B. Klotz, Centrale Nantes

S. Tall, Ecole des Mines Nantes

D. Roszczypala, ENS Rennes

I. Shen, Univ. Paris-Sud