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Vacancy for PhD position on wave energy converter farms at Ghent University in Belgium

Vacancy for PhD position on numerical and experimental investigation of wave energy converter farms

The Coastal Engineering Research Group (CERG) at the Department of Civil Engineering of Ghent University, Belgium, is offering a full-time position for a PhD researcher on wave energy, in Ghent (Belgium).

 Project background

The available global ocean power potential is comparable to the world’s power consumption which stimulates fast ongoing developments of wave energy technologies. Energy from ocean waves can be utilized by installing Wave Energy Converters (WECs) in the sea, which are devices that convert the kinetic and/or potential energy of waves into electricity. To extract a considerable amount of wave power, large numbers of WECs will have to be arranged in WEC farms using a particular geometrical lay-out. WECs interact with each other within a farm, resulting in different behaviour compared to an isolated device (known as “park effect“). As a result of these hydrodynamic interactions between the WECs, the overall power production of the farm is affected in a negative or positive way. Moreover, as a consequence of energy extraction, WEC farms create a region of reduced wave height downwave (so-called “far-field effects”), which is likely to influence neighbouring activities in the sea, other marine (energy) projects, navigation through and around the devices for ship transport and maintenance of the farms, coastal eco-systems and even the coastline and the defence conditions.

Task description: objectives and methodology

The first main objective is the coupling between an open-source numerical solver, suited for predicting park effects and for modeling wave-structure interactions, with an existing wave propagation model, developed within the CERG, suited for predicting far-field effects. This numerical tool aims at the efficient modelling of both park and far field effects, simultaneously.

The second objective is the validation of the developed coupling between the models from the first objective, by employing an existing experimental wave farm database. This database has been obtained during the “WECwakes” project, coordinated by the CERG and funded by the HYDRALAB-IV EU FP7 Programme and the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO). In addition, a new series of physical experiments will be performed as an extension of the “WECwakes” database and will be used for the numerical validation.

A third objective is the application of the developed and validated numerical modeling tool to determine critical parameters in WEC farm design, with impact on power production and environment. With the aid of the combined numerical modeling tool obtained in the first objective, a sensitivity analysis on the essential parameters governing the farm layout and farm dimensions will be performed for various wave climates. As a result, a tool will be developed tailored for WEC farm performance analysis, delivering recommendations and guidelines to wave farm developers.

A fourth objective is the development of a cost assessment methodology for a WEC farm to reduce the cost of energy generated by large scale WEC farms to a level that is competitive with other forms of energy supply. During previous research within CERG, a methodology have been developed for the cost assessment of farms of commercial WECs giving insight into the relative cost contributions of WECs, cables, moorings, etc. Based on this work, the targets are: (i) the development of generic techno-economic optimization methodologies for wave energy at the WEC farm level. The geometrical layout of farms will be optimized to achieve cost reduction and increase of the farm economic performance and technical efficiency, based on the developed numerical methods; and (ii) the proof-of-concept application of this techno-economic optimization to generic and specific close-to-market WECs.

 Therefore, the focus of this project is by using a coupled numerical modeling, supported by experimental validation data, to develop a methodology (and a related numerical tool) to answer the fundamental underlying questions on farm design: finding the optimal and cost-effective configurations of WEC farms for power production, and quantifying the related environmental impact.

The funding for this research project is available through the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

- Candidates should be wellę\qualified academically to masters level. The project will require a mix of skills, including mathematical modelling, programming and simulation skills, as well as the performance and participation in experimental modelling in a wave flume/basin.

- Applicants with backgrounds in the areas of mechanical, fluid mechanics, hydrodynamics, naval construction, civil engineering, mechatronics and electrical/electronic engineering, or applied mathematics are suitable.

- Candidates must have experience in programming.

- Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills.

- Candidates must be proficient in English.

- Candidates must be flexible, responsible and team workers.

- Prior experience (Master thesis, internship) on the modeling of WECs is recommended.

Starting date for this position: as soon as possible.

Duration of the contract: 1 year, with yearly extension to maximum 4 years, after yearly evaluation.

The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the general rules at Ghent University.

Working place will be CERG at Ghent University (Technologiepark 904, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium).
Informal inquiries about the position can be made to Prof. Peter TROCH (peter.troch@ugent.be) and/or dr. Vicky STRATIGAKI (vicky.stratigaki@ugent.be), both from CERG.

More detailed information on working at UGent is available on http://www.ugent.be/en/work. The CERG website is available on http://www.ugent.be/ea/civil-engineering/en/research/coastal-bridgesroads/coastal-engineering.

To apply, please send your full CV with a cover letter indicating the reference number of the vacancy (PER30/1931), and explaining your interest in this vacancy and highlighting any previous experience of wave energy/coastal/ocean engineering and/or numerical modelling, to:

Prof. Peter TROCH (Peter.Troch@UGent.be) and dr. Vicky STRATIGAKI (vicky.stratigaki@ugent.be)

BEFORE 10 April 2015.
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