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Dr Catalina Spataru
Research Room 1.06
Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
Tel: 020 3108 5902
  • Lecturer
  • Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

I joined UCL Energy Institute in 2010 as a Senior Researcher in Smart Grids and I am currently a Lecturer in Energy Systems and Networks. Previously I worked as a Research Fellow in Energy and Environment, Lead consultant and Journalist. I have a PhD in Engineering, Gas Build-up and the frequency of explosions following releases of Natural Gas/Hydrogen mixtures, obtained from Loughborough University, UK. During my studies i have received various fellowships at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain with Socrates-Erasmus Programme; Al. I. Cuza University, Romania; Carnegie Mellon; USA; University of Perugia, Italy. I was a visitor researcher at MIT, USA (2014) and a visiting professor at Nuertingen-Geislingen University Germany (June 2017). I have been invited regularly as a speaker both in academic (delivering guest talks and lectures e.g. Princeton University 2014) and professional circles (e.g. Cheltenham Science Festival, European Business Summit). I have organised public engagement events and I engaged with media being interviewed by journalists (e.g Sunday Telegraph). 

I received the Award Trevithick Fund in 2011 from Institution of Civil Engineers for the paper Low Carbon Housing Design Informed by Research, published in the Proceeding of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Engineering Sustainability. I am the regional representative of the IEEE Women in Power (Region 8- Europe).  

Research Groups
Research Summary

I specialise in whole energy systems dynamics modelling, energy networks, with particular interest to energy resource nexus and sustainability. Since i joined UCL in 2010 I made several contributions to the understanding of the whole energy system; working towards the development of a in-house dynamic energy model (DynEMo) for UK and France, and a scalable dynamic energy model (DEAM) to simulate half hourly energy flows for consumers connected to substations to determine possible future loads imposed to plan upgrades. I have also initiated new research areas: i. power blackouts prevention and reliability of coupling energy networks, developing a modelling framework to asses the impact of intermittent renewable energy sources, trade and risks to energy security for European countries, with a primary focus on Ukraine-Russia-EU route; ii. assessing trade-offs between resources under different climate change scenarios in emerging economies (BRICS; MINT) and cities - constructing a dynamic water-energy-land model; iii. development of a trade model to assess integration of RE following interconnections in Islands and in super grids in the Global South. My past research includes: i. resilience of gas network, safety and risk assessment of end users following releases of natural gas/hydrogen, probability assessment of leakages and explosions. The work has been used to define a Decision Support Tool for European Countries to assess the socio-economic aspects of hydrogen addition to natural gas system; ii. Development of energy models at micro distributed level; iii. A Smart Home tool with a friendly user interface to determine potential savings due to behaviour change and technologies upgrade in buildings. I used and tested different indoor localisation systems for people tracking and activity recognition including wireless networks, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and cameras. 

I made contribution to international reports, e.g. World Energy Council Scenarios Composing Energy futures to 2050; Global Systems Science Orientation paper part of EU-FET consultation process. I organised workshops and act as scientific chair for a number of conferences, organised workshops and round-table discussions with colleagues worldwide (e.g. Stanford University, US 2017). 

Teaching Summary

I taught lectures on fluid mechanics, mathematics, renewable energy technologies, energy systems modelling, lab demonstrations (PV and Wind turbines) for undergraduate, MSc and Mres students. I have been invited as guest lecturer (e.g. Nottingham University, UK; Nurtingen University Germany). Between 2012-2015 I helped Prof. Bob Lowe with the MRes module TMI and between 2011-2014 I was running together with Dr Mark Barrett the Energy Systems modelling module (MSc EDE). In 2014 I delivered lectures part of the UCL Engineering IEP yr.1 Sustainable Energy Challenge on Smart Grids and Energy storage. 

I am currently leading and teaching the following modules: i. Smart Energy Systems module (MSc EDE), a multidisciplinary module which I proposed and developed in 2013, providing students with an understanding of methods, concepts and practice of current and future whole energy system dynamics, offering a combination of theory, practical case studies, with interactive exercises, use of data and development of a toy model for islands. ii. Metrics, Modeling and Visualisation of the Resource Nexus module (MSC Sustainable Resources) - an interdisciplinary module developed in 2015 providing an understanding of trade-offs and interlinkages of water, energy, land, food, materials nexus and sustainability with focus on islands; iii. Communications skills (MRes EDS)

I have been supervising several MSc and Mres. I am currently supervising 7 PhD students. Most of them took over the models I developed and extend/apply them in their dissertations under my supervision. For example, DEAM algorithms were included in the PhD model SpDEAM of Ed Sharp which calculates hourly loads at a spatial resolution of 0.5 degrees Latitude/Longitude. 

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