The role of marine geoscience in optimising the architecture of offshore renewable energy infrastructure

Applications are invited for a 4 year PhD studentship which will start on 1 October 2021.

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for MPhil/PhD Geological Sciences, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Take a look at the Doctoral College's general information on applying for a research degree.

Director of Studies: Dr Matthew Watkinson (M.P.Watkinson@plymouth.ac.uk, tel.: +44 1752 584765)

2nd Supervisor: Dr Ian Selby (ian.selby@plymouth.ac.uk)

3rd Supervisor: Dr Martin Stokes (M.Stokes@plymouth.ac.uk, tel.: +44 1752 584772)

4th Supervisor: Liz Wells, National Grid Ventures

Applications are invited for a four-year PhD studentship as part of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Geosciences and the Low Carbon Energy Transition. The studentship will start on 1 October 2021.

Project description 

The energy transition forms a key component of the drive to Net Zero. The 75GW target for offshore wind generation forces a re-consideration of piecemeal development across an increasingly congested sea bed. If the UK is to efficiently step beyond the 40MW target by 2030, we will need to embrace new technologies (for example energy islands and interconnectors) and a new offshore UK- and North Sea-wide electrical infrastructure to be deployed across the marine environment. Learning from hydrocarbon and previous renewable infrastructure experience, marine geoscience will play a key role in developing a strategic approach to evolution of a UK and European offshore electrical infrastructure. Decisions based on sound marine geoscience will de-risk and accelerate the marine renewable revolution through cost reduction, market readiness and sector confidence and inform technology development and the associated supply chain. Marine geoscience lies at the core of a national strategic approach to optimising the architecture of offshore renewable energy infrastructure.

Currently there is no methodology that integrates sea bed and shallow high resolution sub-surface geoscience data to optimise offshore infrastructure development. This project aims to demonstrate how integrating a range of sea bed geoscience data can develop a model that will provide an effective characterisation of the sea bed (its configuration, composition and condition) which will facilitate effective optimisation, cost reduction and de-risking of offshore infrastructure. Taking a national an integrated infrastructure perspective, (for example incorporating cable burial analysis), the researcher will create a marine geoscience model that will guide an optimal UK infrastructure architecture using sub-surface and sea bed data and analysis and interpretation of hydrographic, bathymetric, seismic, sonar and sample data. The model will be informed by the Quaternary geological history, configuration, composition, processes and sediment resources on the sea bed. Outputs would include a digital database, visualisation and the basis for the creation of a UK-wide and Europe-wide optimal electrical infrastructure architecture as a public reference point. The researcher will become a focus as the authority on the subject and a sea bed expert, communicator and advisor. Marine geoscience will provide opportunity for confidence and innovation in both planning, consenting, technologies and operations – underpinning a strategic and risk-focused approach to choosing the right routes and sites for planning & permitting, stakeholder relationships and optimising sea bed use.

Eligibility 

Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification. 

The studentship is supported for four years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of approximate £15,285 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £12,285 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Watkinson. However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.


How to apply

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for MPhil/PhD Geological Sciences, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Take a look at the Doctoral College's general information on applying for a research degree.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Monday 25 January 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week commencing 1 March 2021. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 1 May should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.