Context and research challenge

Renewable energy technologies allow for clean and sustainable energy to be harnessed from widely available self-renewing resources. However, their variable and intermittent nature leads to challenges to keep supply and demand in balance in the electricity grid at different physical and economical levels. To preserve this balance with an increasing share of renewables in the energy system, there is a growing need for flexibility. Next to the flexibility provided by conventional power plants, (inter)national interconnectivity, demand response, curtailment, energy storage is proving to be a potential valuable solution[1].

Batteries, being a form of electrochemical energy storage, are drawing more and more attention since they present promising characteristics to be applied at different physical locations, at different scales and for multiple services[2]. Around the world, batteries are being deployed for wider ancillary services such as frequency regulation, and also for peak shifting and supporting renewable energy production plants, to name but a few [3].

The state-of-the-art Li-ion technologies that are used for energy storage solutions are to a large extent the result of the developments made in an ever growing market for electric vehicles (EV),driven by international sustainability goals, market competition and more stringent mobility regulation. Demand for batteries in the EV market, and hence for critical materials they are partly made of, are largely exceeding the demand in the stationary energy storage market, which indicates a growth risk. Moreover ,prices for batteries have been declining over the recent years as production volumes are ramped up. However, investment costs are too high for offering economically viable use cases, especially at the residential level[4]. Therefore, questions are raised on the rate of deployment of batteries for energy storage purposes.

A smart integration of electric vehicles in the electricity system might be the solution. While they are in the first place acquired to answer a mobility need, they can also serve a flexibility need. More and more automotive OEMs are presenting vehicles that not only can be charged from the grid but also can deliver energy back to the system, being at a home, building or the electricity grid in general[5-6]. The latter process of discharging energy from the EV battery via a bidirectional charging system is referred to as vehicle-to-grid/home/building (V2G, V2H, V2B), in general V2X[7-8].

In addition to the provision of ancillary services,V2Xtechnologies can allow the integration of renewable energy sources in smart grids, save energy costs, and open new energy trading markets, using energy storage as a service[9].The economic viability of V2X services, however, depend on the financial profitability of the service for the end customers and aggregators, to name but a few. While some EV-types that facilitate such services using V2X technologies are commercially available, the influence on the lifetime of Li-ion batteries is often disregarded[10]. However, this has a big impact on the financial profitability of the service and therefore the uncertainty has to be tackled so that end-users can be convinced to use their EVs in V2X services.


This research will address a new approach of using optimal control in using the EV battery for trade on the electricity market, maximizing revenues and lifetime extension while preserving the level of comfort and safety for the end-user. This has to ‘warm’ the owner to provide his EV for these services.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing a competitive MSCA-PF proposal. 


This research work will be performed in the multi-disciplinary energy unit within VITO connecting e.g. battery expertise with knowhow on optimization and control. This work also positions itself in existing and to be acquired international research and innovation projects.


Successful candidates will be supervised by Dr Sajjad Fekriasl. Dr Fekriasl has over 20 years of experience leading, conducting and communicating research, with both academia and industry, in the domain of Electrical Engineering and its wider real-life applications. Sajjad’s research interests cover modeling, development of estimation algorithms and advanced control systems with focus on robust control. His current activities include state estimation and control systems design for lithium-ion battery management systems, for both mobile and stationary battery energy storage applications.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Sajjad Fekriasl via e-mail:

Deadline application to VITO

Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, as soon as possible and no later than Friday 30 April 2021 17:00 Brussels time.

Deadline MSCA-PF 2021

Wednesday 15 September 2021 17:00 Brussels time.

Target start date

The EU informs the results on the MSCA-PF applications in February 2022. Successful candidates are expected to be available to start within the following two months and no later than summer 2022.


We invite applicants to propose a more detailed and focused research approach within the scope of this MSCA-PF Fellowship as a part of their application. We are primarily looking for experienced researchers who wish to use this period as an opportunity to further develop their research and skills, and to develop longer-term research collaborations with VITO and other institutions conducting research in the field.

The candidates as in principle must be eligible for a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship – please refer to the conditions to be set-out in the Horizon Europe MSCA-PF-2021 Work Programme, including taking into account the new MSCA Green Charter principles.

The following assets will be advantageous:

  • An excellent track record in research, necessary for being able to develop a competitive Marie Curie Fellowship application;
  • Already published relevant research work in prestigious scientific journals;
  • An open and cooperation-oriented nature, but with strong abilities for independent research work;
  • highly proficient in spoken and written English.

Initially, we offer assistance in developing competitive Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposals.

Then, to successful applicants to the Marie Curie programme, we offer;

  • An exciting opportunity at VITO, the independent Flemish research organisation driven by the major global challenges. Our goal? To accelerate the transition to a sustainable world;
  • Participation in a dynamic professional research & innovation community;
  • Flexible working conditions;
  • An inclusive and friendly work environment;
  • On-boarding assistance and other services.