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PhD Studentship: Autonomous Systems for Offshore Wind O&M - Strategies, Guidelines, and Tools; Engineering

University of Exeter - University of Exeter's College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Penryn, Cornwall
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th September 2019
Closes: 22nd November 2019
Reference: 3619

This PhD at the University of Exeter is sponsored by EDF Energy which is at the forefront of the drive towards low carbon electricity generation. This PhD seeks to address the offshore wind industry’s need of greater levels of automation by applying novel methods of integrating multiple autonomous systems to the operation of existing wind farms and planning for the needs of future offshore wind farms A PhD candidate is sought to develop tools to use and coordinate autonomous surface vessels, unmanned subsea vessels, and unmanned aerial drones for offshore wind farms. Working closely with operational 

teams, the research will include field testing at active wind farms, including the Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstrator site. The tools, strategies, and proof of concept sea trials developed as part of this PhD will aid not only wind farm operators, such as the industrial sponsor, but will help guide the work of manufacturers of autonomous systems to ensure that their systems can address the challenges faced in this industry as well as standard and certification bodies.

The aim is to identify, develop and validate innovative solutions to reduce costs and risks to existing and future offshore wind assets. The project would suit someone who is highly motivated to be involved in the application and development of autonomous and remote systems backed up by sound engineering knowledge and a strong background in computing and mathematics. A degree in one or more of the following engineering disciplines would be advantageous: mechanical, aeronautical, electrical, civil, computer or navel/offshore. However, candidates across the marine sciences, maths, computing or physical sciences will also be considered.

The project will take advantage of facilities within the Centre for Offshore Technology, including high-performance computing, offshore test facilities, offshore measurement technology, and research vessel. Furthermore, field trials at Blyth offshore wind farm are anticipated in partnership with the industrial sponsor EDF Energy. As such, the project will include fieldwork including testing of remote/autonomous systems.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in January 2020 with up to a six month secondment to EDF Energy’s offices supplemented by training to support personal development. The collaboration with the industrial sponsor is subject to contract.  Please note full details of the project partner’s contribution and involvement with the project is still to be confirmed and may change during the course of contract negotiations. Full details will be confirmed at offer stage.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, currently £15,009 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the EPSRC. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding. Further information about eligibility can be found on

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