Spotlight on a Student: Abbas Ihsan

Techno-economic and environmental performance of a distributed, hybrid renewable energy power plant


Dr Abbas Ihsan recently completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne. His research investigated the least cost performance of a dispatchable, low carbon emission hybrid power plant. Since his degree completion, he has begun work at a solar manufacturing company.

What is your research about?

My research focused on the technical, economic and environmental performance of hybrid renewable energy power plants. As is known, renewable energy plants like solar PV can generate low emissions electricity but they face intermittency issues. On the other hand, conventional power plants like coal or gas generators can generate reliable electricity but have high carbon emission intensity. Hybrid power plants combines the low carbon emissions benefit of renewable energy plants and reliability/dispatchability of conventional power plants. These power plants were previously studied for remote off-grid applications where the grid delivered electricity was expensive. However, with the rapid improvement in the performance of renewable energy plants and in particular solar PV, where the capital costs have decreased significantly, such hybrid plants can play their role in the on-grid applications.

The hybrid plant which I studied comprised of a solar PV system, a battery system, a reciprocating gas engine and other technologies. I undertook high performance computation and data intensive methods including state of the art Stochastic Dual Dynamic Programming (SDDP) algorithm, to examine the least cost performance of the plant with different electricity and gas tariff structures, carbon abatement targets and demand response, amongst others. My key modelling decisions included the optimal capacities and operation of each component of the plant.

Who are your supervisors?

I was lucky to have two great supervisors. Professor Michael Brear is a Professor of Engineering and Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute and has extensive experience working with energy and transport systems. Dr Matthew Jeppesen is an honorary fellow at The University of Melbourne and the director of a solar forecasting company - Proa Analytics.

What do you want to do next?

I am currently working with RayGen Resources Pty. Ltd which is a solar manufacturing company. I am responsible for the techno-economic modelling of a Solar Power Plant which RayGen intends to build in the near future. I am excited about this opportunity where I am applying my research knowledge while also learning new skills from the team.

Abbas and his supervisors welcome any enquiries about his research. You can email him at

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Ruby Brown

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