14 November 2023

The "REN Award" recognizes the best master's and doctoral theses on energy

The REN Award, one of the oldest scientific distinctions in Portugal, was granted today to Justino Rodrigues, a student at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), for the doctoral thesis “Advanced Control Functionalities for Smart-Transformers Integrating Hybrid Micro Grids”, and to Nuno Mendes, from the University of Coimbra (UC), for the master's thesis ”Federated Learning for the Prediction of Net Energy Demand in Communities of Buildings”. During the ceremony of the 28th edition of the REN Award, held at the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel in Lisbon, two Medals of Scientific Merit awarded by REN – Ciência LP – FCT were also awarded.

The REN Award for the best doctoral thesis in the energy field, awarded every two years, recognised Justino Rodrigues for his work aimed at enhancing and consolidating the controllability of Hybrid Micro Grids, in light of the expected increase in energy resource integration. Meanwhile, the REN Award for the best master's thesis, presented annually, was given to Nuno Mendes for his work on enhancing prediction systems for net energy demand in communities of buildings.

"REN includes support for innovation and scientific research in its Strategic Plan, considering them key elements for technological advancements that will enable us to live on a more sustainable planet", states Rodrigo Costa, Chairman of the Board of Directors of REN. "The REN Award, bestowed for 28 years, has recognised qualified and talented young scientists studying at Portuguese universities, driven by the desire to finding solutions for our collective future. We will continue to reward this eagerness to discover the future", he adds.

With the second place, the REN Award jury, led by Professor João Peças Lopes, distinguished the master's thesis “Comportamento dinâmico de sistemas de transmissão com inércia reduzida” [Dynamic behaviour of transmission systems with reduced inertia] by Ana Silva, a student at FEUP. The thesis assesses the operational challenges of the transition to renewable energies. The third place was awarded to Maria Lima, also from FEUP, for the thesis “Magneto-caloric heat pump for space heating”, proposing an innovative technology, the magneto-caloric heat pump, as an alternative to conventional heat pumps to avoid the use of polluting refrigerants.

The jury also awarded an honourable mention to Hélder Pereira, a student at the School of Engineering (ISEP) – Polytechnic of Porto, for the thesis “A Novel Multi-Level and Community-Based Agent Ecosystem to Support Customer's Dynamic Decision-Making in Smart Grids”, proposing an artificial intelligence-based model for managing smart grids. Another honourable mention was awarded to the thesis “Detection of Power Line Supporting Towers Via Interpretable Semantic Segmentation of 3D Point Clouds” by Diogo Lavado, a student at the NOVA School of Science and Technology, aiming to find solutions to automate inspections of the electricity grid.

This is the third year in which the Medals of Scientific Merit are awarded by REN – Ciência LP – FCT, a partnership between REN, the Centro Ciência LP, and the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, recognising works on energy by young people from Portuguese-speaking African countries. Rosa Chilundo, from Mozambique, won the 1st Prize with the thesis “Estudo do Sistema Fotovoltaico de Bombeamento de Água para Irrigação e Suprimento de Outras Demandas Energéticas: Caso do Tomate, Distrito de Boane, Província de Maputo” [Study of the Photovoltaic Water Pumping System for Irrigation and Supply of Other Energy Demands: Case of Tomato, Boane District, Maputo Province], which explores ways to optimise energy use in crop irrigation.

The 2nd Prize went to Chadido Lacerda Diogo, also from Mozambique, for the thesis “Energias Renováveis como Solução para Electrificação nas Comunidades Rurais na Perspectiva de Sustentabilidade, Confiabilidade e Segurança – Caso de Estudo: Posto Administrativo de Chinamacondo, Distrito de Dondo” [Renewable Energies as a Solution for Electrification in Rural Communities from the Perspective of Sustainability, Reliability, and Security – Case Study: Administrative Post of Chinamacondo, Dondo District], where he assessed the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energies in rural communities, based on practical cases.

The event was opened by Francisco Pedro Balsemão, Chairman of the Impresa Group, with Albert Cheung, Vice-CEO of Bloomberg NEF, as the keynote speaker. Rodrigo Costa, CEO of REN, was responsible for closing the ceremony.

About the prizes

Every two years, the REN Award acknowledges the best doctoral thesis, and the winner receives a monetary prize of €30,000. The top three master's theses are awarded annually, with the first place receiving a prize of €25,000, the second place receiving a prize of €15,000, and the third place receiving €10,000. Each honourable mention receives a prize of €2,500. The recipient of the 1st place in the Medals of Scientific Merit awarded by REN – Ciência LP – FCT receives €5,000, while the 2nd place receives €2,500.