In the last decades, we witnessed how the liberalization of the electricity markets and the associated unbundling significantly changed the energy landscape. Instead of organizing the system as a vertically integrated utility, independent actors interact on the electricity markets, such as generation companies, transmission and distribution system operators, retailers, power exchanges, or balance responsible parties.

The transmission system operator (TSO) acts as a market facilitator and is in charge of power system reliability. In this regard, system operators have a number of tasks: from real-time balancing and congestion management, to infrastructure investments. Operating the transmission system is recognized as a natural monopoly. For this reason, TSOs are regulated, also in the framework of liberalized electricity markets. National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) regulate and provide incentives to ensure TSOs can operate the market efficiently, and remain (financially) neutral. Nevertheless, there can be a gap between the anticipated effect of regulation posed on TSOs and the observed outcome.
The available cross-border transmission capacity after the implementation of the flow-based market coupling (FBMC) can be seen as an example of unforeseen consequences of new regulation. Initially the FBMC should have allowed higher cross-border exchanges and, consequently, higher social welfare in day-ahead electricity markets. However, soon after implementation, some TSO discretionary actions (e.g., adding new critical lines with very low “Remaining Available Margin RAM”) have limited trade and price convergence, and hence led to significant decreases in the gained social welfare [5], [6].
To this end, the goal of this PhD project is to study the consequences of the European and national regulatory framework on incentives for TSOs, and how those will evolve with the ongoing trends in electricity system and market design (e.g.,increased interconnection, higher shares of renewables and storages and active consumers). Additionally, the aim is to identify possibly conflicting or perverse incentives (from a single or different entities, e.g. NRA against European network of TSOs for electricity (ENTSO-e)). To limit the scope, the focus is on the operational tasks of the TSO (i.e., market coupling, congestion management and balancing; from reserve sizing to procurement and activation). Based on a state-of-the-art modeling framework, mimicking the day-to-day operations of a TSO and it’s interaction with the regulatory framework/regulator, case studies on specific topics are envisioned. These case studies may include, but are not limited to, market-based congestion management (vs. the current command-and-control framework) and cross-border TSO-TSO collaboration in reserve capacity sizing, procurement and activation.

Collaboration with University of Leuven
Registration deadline: 23/08/2019



You hold a Master's degree in engineering.

You are familiar with electricity markets in Europe.

Basic knowledge of optimization and/or game theory.

  • The PhD-student receives a PhD-grant from the University of Leuven. VITO concludes a financing agreement with the University of Leuven, with VITO undertaking to provide an annual allowance matching the net remuneration of an assistant, plus management costs. The University of Leuven will pay the selected PhD-student a PhD-grant matching the before mentioned net amount.
  • Flexible working hours and workplace
  • The chance to be part of an organization with an international reputation, known for its advanced technological research and scientific consultancy
  • The possibility to actively contribute towards sustainable developments at local, national and global level.