PhD Position in Digitalization of Solar Energy

6 days left

Trondheim, Norway
14 Jan 2021
End of advertisement period
01 Feb 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

Job description

The objective of the PhD education is to qualify for scientific research of high international standard. The PhD education has a nominal duration of three years of full-time study and includes required coursework or similar academic training comprising a minimum of 30 credits. The most important component of the PhD education is an independent scientific research project carried out under academic supervision, which results in the PhD thesis. The PhD degree is conferred based on these two elements and the doctoral examination, which consists of a trial lecture and a public defence of the scientific thesis. The candidate is expected to fully complete the course work and the PhD thesis within the period of employment (3 years).

Project description

The energy generation from solar systems has been shown as a key issue to improve energy efficiency at different scales ranging from buildings to neighbourhoods and cities and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is also certainly the case of the Nordic countries where the solar market is on the rise, as the costs continue to drop, and the deployment of solar systems on urban surfaces (ground, roofs and facades), especially vertically mounted, have more favourable operating conditions (i.e. solar irradiation and temperature profile) than in the rest of Europe

Nevertheless, despite the significant potential to be exploited, a large portion of solar energy remains unused and the implementation of solar systems in the Nordic built environment is still facing several obstacles. Factors preventing optimal exploitation of solar energy are, for example, how to handle complex shading effects and solar inter-building reflections, climate challenges (i.e. adverse weather conditions), design and architectural building integration including aesthetics, legal and cultural barriers, lack of standardization, safety aspects including fire issues, installation and maintenance considerations, flexibility aspects, performance issues and economic constraints.

Thus, to investigate further penetration of solar energy in Nordic cities, it is crucial to assess the solar potential early in the planning process, taking into account - among the others - technical insight, complex urban solar phenomena (i.e. solar inter-building reflections, shadow cast)and operational conditions at temporal (i.e. short/medium/long term) and spatial scales (i.e. local/regional/national).

In this context, the digitalization of solar energy associated with designing and modelling techniques, advanced computer graphics and Geographical Information System (GIS), has been shown to be a promising approach to optimise the integration of solar energy systems at building and neighbourhood scales by balancing competing uses of solar energy (i.e. passive solar heating vs. solar gain leading to cooling loads, daylighting vs. PV-conversion, indoor vs outdoor comfort).

The investigation of such innovative technologies requires combined local research to make solar energy systems more affordable both technically and in terms of economic and market aspects.

To progress beyond the state-of-the-art, this PhD position targets the following objectives:

  • Enhance the exploitation of the solar energy potential in Nordic cities aims to turn the Nordic conditions to unique opportunities to accelerate the penetration of solar energy in the Nordic built environment, using NTNU Campus as a pilot neighborhood and Trondheim as a pilot city.
  • Enable significant innovation in the digitalization and visualization of solar energy data of urban surfaces by extending the traditional solar mapping, such as “solar cadastre”, to:
    • Elaborate solar potential forecasting in real-time (i.e. short term 4-48 hours) to predict solar energy generation;
    •  Implement climate change scenarios to evaluate the exploitation of solar energy (i.e. medium (20-50 years) and long (100 years) term).

This PhD position will be concerned with the role of digitalization of solar energy, intended as the realization of solar cadastre for the city of Trondheim and the implementation of advanced technologies required to realize the full potential of solar energy to a more sustainable built environment. Relevant research areas and related technologies could be for example:

  • Topic 1: Performance assessment of solar systems optimization and energy generation
    • Artificial intelligence, machine learning      and big data to study how these technologies can benefit the integration and operation of solar energy and the generated energy.
    • Energy optimization to study e.g. the role of energy storage, energy yield prediction and forecasting, power electronics and digital technologies.
  • Topic 2: Solar energy planning and urban form optimization
    • Advanced computer graphics and GIS to calculate solar irradiation on urban surfaces and elaborate complex urban solar phenomena in 3D model cityscape visualization.
    • Advanced modelling techniques (i.e. machine learning) to elaborate urban form optimization scenarios to balance competing uses of solar energy.
  • Topic 3: Solar data and climate change scenarios
    • Machine learning technique, climate prediction models and solar data forecasting to predict solar power, based on weather forecast data, sun position and geometry at different time horizons in climate change scenarios in short, medium and long term.

The direction this project will go specifically, will be defined in its initial phase in cooperation between the supervisor and co-supervisors, the candidate (depending on the candidate’s profile) and any cooperating partners.

This PhD position is a part of NTNUs initiative to establish a Center for Green Shift in the Built Environment ( hosted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Center’s vision is to create value in the society through Digitalisation. This Center will utilize and develop expertise, methods, tools and strategies for a sustainable built environment. The research and innovation activities of the Center will be directed at a Green Shift and a Digital Future.

To enhance the research activities and assure a link with the scientific community, international engagement activities are planned in connection with the PhD project:

  • Cooperation with international projects and networks in solar energy in built environment (e.g. COST Action PEARL PV - , IEA SHC Task 63 Solar neighbourhood planning -

You will report to main supervisor.

Required selection criteria

PhD candidate:

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Engineering and Technology, Architecture, Natural Sciences, Computer Science or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

  • The candidate should have prior knowledge and experience in modelling and simulation of solar systems as well as software tools for solar irradiation, daylighting, building energy, parametric modelling and design software, and GIS.
  • The candidate should have prior research or professional experience and ability in dealing with the aforementioned areas of research and advanced technologies.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in English are necessary

Applicants from non-English speaking countries outside EU/EEA/Switzerland must provide preliminary documentation of English language proficiency, in terms of an approved test. The following tests can be used: TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

Further assessment of both written and oral English language skills and the ability to communicate fluently will be conducted in the continued selection process and during any interviews for all applicants.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Preferred selection criteria

  • Prior knowledge or professional experience and ability in dealing with “solar cadastre” and dialogue with municipalities will be advantageous.
  • Proficient use of programming language and coding in general, and prior knowledge of Python and/or MATLAB is an advantage.
  • General knowledge and experience within engineering and technology, architecture, natural sciences, and computer science.
  • Norwegian language skills is an advantage.

Personal characteristics

In the evaluation of the candidates, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as personal motivation for the position, in terms of the qualification requirements specified above. We look for candidates who show clear signs of independence, original thinking and scientific mindset.

  • Honesty and high ethical standards.
  • High level of personal responsibility and initiative.
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team in accordance with the project objectives.
  • Ability to work in interdisciplinary projects and teams.
  • Ability to acquire new knowledge quickly and is able to use existing knowledge in new ways.
  • Suitable candidates should be flexible and solution-oriented.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidate:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Engineering ( within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • A cover letter where the applicant describes personal motivation and relevance with respect to the topic and the requirements of this advertisement.
  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • A draft research plan or project proposal (max 2 pages) for the PhD study, where the candidate presents her/his own ideas for the PhD-work and how it can be applied, based on the project description given in this advertisement by specifying one or more of the aforementioned topics. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 5 works)
  • Testimonials and certificates. Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement ( or a similar document, which describes in detail the study programme and grading system.
  • The required documentation of English language proficiency.
  • Name and address of three referees including telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Associate Professor Gabriele Lobaccaro, telephone +47 918 13 568, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Tone Måsøval Arntzen, email

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number IV-49/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 01.02.2021

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

We conduct research and teaching in civil and transportation engineering, technical planning, structural engineering, water and wastewater engineering and hydraulic engineering. Graduates from our programmes become employees – in both the public and private sectors – with a sustainability mindset combined with competitive knowledge and skills. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 1st February 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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