PhD position in adapting solar energy technologies for use in Arctic climate

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Spitsbergen, Norway
Closing date: 10 September 2021

The department of Arctic Technology at UNIS, together with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), seeks a Ph.D. student for a full-time four-year position in adapting solar energy technologies for use in Arctic climate. The Department of Arctic Technology currently has two Professors, one Associate Professor, two Ph.D. students and 13 Adjunct Professors. The department conducts education and research in ice mechanics, offshore engineering, loads and structures, geotechnics, environmental technology and toxicology, arctic safety and renewable energy solutions. The department provides 16 courses at Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. level.

Description of the vacant position
Renewable energy is a new prioritized theme in Svalbard and of global importance due to the goal to reduce the current dependency on fossil fuels. Several Svalbard companies are shifting to more environmentally friendly alternatives, including wind and solar energy. Construction of these systems in the Arctic poses unique logistical and technical challenges due to the extreme Arctic environment, for example, weather, snow, ice, permafrost, isolation, and remoteness. To support the move of the Longyearbyen energy system from fossil fuels to renewables, the Department of Arctic Technology, together with NTNU, is now seeking a Ph.D. student.

The focus of the Ph.D. students project will be on adapting solar energy technologies for use in Arctic climate. Such adaptation requires assessment of the environmental loads, construction foundation solutions as well as developing control and steering systems to optimize production for remote off-grid regions. The potential of solar panels and solar heat collectors will be assessed using trial prototypes. Numerical modeling, reanalysis of data, and machine learning are expected to be used to build a system that must operate in regions with strong seasonality (e.g., polar night and short summer period). Borehole thermal energy storage (BTES) is being considered as seasonal storage for Longyearbyen. In-situ tests combining solar heat collectors and BTES might form an element of the project. The Ph.D. student will be expected to develop a project within one of these areas.

The Ph.D. student will be involved in ongoing and new projects around Longyearbyen and other locations in Svalbard and will work together with local partner organizations, some of whom are investigating business opportunities within green energy also in other Arctic regions. Further, through NTNU, the Ph.D. student will be involved in other international collaborations with industry and institutions outside Svalbard.

Qualifications and personal qualities
Applicants must have a strong academic background and hold a M.Sc. in one of the following; Environmental/Energy engineering, Applied mathematics, Applied physics, Mechanics, Structural engineering (Dynamics), Meteorology, or a related subject directly relevant. Candidates in the finalization phase of their master thesis work may be considered if they can document that they are particularly suitable for this position.

Knowledge of renewable energy meteorology in cold climates is an advantage as well as general knowledge of renewable hybrid energy systems. Experience of field work, especially in cold climates, and working with observational and numerical model data is an advantage. Additionally, scientific writing including authorship of scientific publications is beneficial. Applicants must be able to work independently, in a structured manner, and demonstrate good collaborative skills.

The applicant must be proficient in both written and spoken English and, due to local Norwegian company cooperation partners, it is considered a major strength if the candidate is fluent in a Scandinavian language to enable efficient collaboration. The successful candidate will be subject to a security control. Motivation and personal suitability will be emphasized. To allow assessment of this, a statement of personal and scientific interest in taking a Ph.D. degree, including an outline of a Ph.D. project idea, must be included in the application.

More information and how to apply


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