Professor Pierluigi Mancarella

veski innovation fellow

In December 2017, Professor Pierluigi Mancarella was presented with a veski innovation fellowship worth $150,000 over three years for his research project entitled ‘The “FlexCity” revolution: techno-economic modelling of urban energy systems as the clean power stations of the future’. The funding of this fellowship will be matched in cash and in-kind by his host organisation The University of Melbourne.

Project summary: a “FlexCity” powered by clean energy with smart grid technologies

Lower cost clean energy options are needed to help Victoria achieve its ambitious target where 40 per cent of the state’s energy is to be generated from renewable sources by 2025. With this goal in mind, Professor Pierluigi Mancarella will take a revolutionary approach to planning and operating our communities, towns and cities as flexible, low carbon Urban Virtual Power Plants. 

The aim is to create a “FlexCity” powered by clean energy with smart grid technologies; where buildings, districts, and local players actively participate in the operation of the system to create new, sustainable energy-related businesses. 

Professor Mancarella will produce tools that support decision making for the operation and planning of sustainable and more resilient energy systems. These tools will also protect against the risks that might hinder the development of successful low carbon energy businesses. 

His research brings together innovation across technical, environmental, commercial, regulatory and socio-economic dimensions. It also builds on Victoria’s growing strength in smart grid technologies such as battery storage, microgrids, and others envisioned in various recent documents and initiatives. 

By providing new insights into multiple technical and economic aspects of urban energy systems in a smart grid context, this work will put the State of Victoria at the forefront of the energy decarbonisation issue in Australia and worldwide, reinforcing its vision to become a low carbon economy and allowing it to export technical and commercial innovation knowledge. 

The veski funding will also have an impact on most energy-related sectors and relevant industry players in Victoria and beyond, from distribution companies to renewable energy developers, retailers and aggregators.  In particular, the research outcomes and the tools developed will be presented to all interested parties and will be the basis for further business developments such as consultancy and new industry-driven research and collaborations. 

There are also fundamental environmental and health-related public benefits set to arise from the work that will decarbonise and decrease the local pollution which results from urban energy systems. Furthermore, the new commercial arrangements and business models arising from this research will contribute towards meeting the environmental targets set out by the Victorian Government at a lower cost, and it will promote new local businesses and activities of local entrepreneurs and foster a culture of clean energy awareness in the Victorian community. 

Professor Mancarella is a world-renowned specialist in techno-economics of energy networks, modelling of integrated energy systems, integration of low carbon energy technologies into power systems, planning of energy infrastructure under uncertainty, and development of business cases for smart grids. 

He has also recently provided input into Australia’s Chief Scientist’s Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, leading the Melbourne Energy Institute’s power system security assessment studies for the Finkel Review. 



Key facts

  • Professor Mancarella is the new Chair of Electrical Power Systems at The University of Melbourne within the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department. 
  • He is leading, amongst others, a large UK project on energy storage with several industry partners aiming to develop disruptive business cases for storage technologies. 
  • He was formerly Chair of the Energy Working Group of the IEEE European Public Policy Initiative. 



“'As an engineer, I believe my role is to make an impact on society and by working with industry we have a clear pathway towards that impact”

Professor Pierluigi Mancarella