13 June 2019

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For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Geert Deconinck, tel.: +32 16 32 11 26, mail:

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For one of our major research projects, we are looking for a motivated PhD student, who understands smart electricity grids, energy trading and privacy, and who is thrilled to combine these into a working combination.

KU Leuven ESAT-Electa is the research unit on electrical energy and smart grids at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) of the University of Leuven. It received the 'excellent' mark during the last audit. The research unit has 6 professors, 8 postdocs, 12 technical and administrative staff and 50+ PhD students, and is active in many projects. It is a co-founder of EnergyVille. EnergyVille is a knowledge centre, focused on sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems. It combines the strengths and expertise of its partners, KU Leuven, VITO and imec with the aim of reaching the top 5 in innovative energy research in Europe. Since 2016 EnergyVille has great research infrastructure (incl a smart grids lab) in Genk, where your main work location is. 

For one of our major research projects, we are looking for a motivated PhD student, who understands smart electricity grids, energy trading and privacy, and who is thrilled to combine these into a working combination.

Website unit


A peer-to-peer electricity market allows users to trade electricity among themselves, reducing their electricity costs. In addition, electricity exchange between nearby users can significantly reduce electrical losses during transport over distribution lines. Bids and offers in such a market can be created from the flexibility of a heterogeneous set of generation devices, such as PV, storage devices, such as batteries, and flexible loads, such as electric boilers. 

However, such markets may also create an opportunity for malicious entities to misbehave in order to reduce costs or maximise profits. Potential threats are impersonation, data manipulation, eavesdropping, disputes, and privacy breaches. As an example of a privacy breach, consider entities which have access to users’ offers and bids. They may use this data to infer who is selling or buying how much electricity and when. Such data is closely correlated to users’ consumption patterns, which potentially reveal sensitive information; and which may facilitate consumer profiling by fingerprinting and tracking the use of specific electronic appliances. We will also assess the impact of a decentralised peer-to-peer electricity trading system on the current energy market value chain, the changing roles of different core stakeholders and the identification of new players, such as the role of (third party) matchmaking platforms.

Within this project context (, we will combine the latest smart grid research methods on demand response and flexibility management with the state-of-art cryptographic techniques (such as computations over encrypted data) to realise peer-to-peer electricity trading in a citizen energy communioty, which is privacy-friendly by design.


 We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate with the degree of Master of Science in Engineering Science (electrical engineering, energy science, computer engineering...) or alike and with a strong interest in smart energy systems and/or security and privacy, and a solid engineering background. The candidate should have distinguished him/herself during the studies (excellent grades, publications) and shall wish to acquire a PhD degree in the course of four years at the Arenberg Doctoral School of the University of Leuven. 

In addition to a scientific and research attitude, the candidate can process complex matters in an independent way.

The candidate shall be a citizen of a EU member state or an EEA country.


The researcher will be a KU Leuven PhD student (Engineering Science), and also work as part of EnergyVille's research team in Genk. 

She/He gets a contract as PhD scholar (doctoraatsbursaal, zie

A PhD typically takes 4 years, where the contract is renewed yearly.