PhD Position in Digitalization of Solar Energy

Trondheim, Norway
22 Jun 2021
End of advertisement period
01 Aug 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Machine Learning and Advanced Visualization Techniques for Digitalization of Solar Energy.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

You will report to Associate Professor.

Duties of the position

Job description

The energy generation from solar systems is a key factor to improve energy efficiency and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment. This is also certainly the case of the Nordic countries where deployment of solar systems, especially vertically mounted, have more favourable operating conditions (i.e. solar irradiation and temperature profile) than in the rest of Europe.

However, a large portion of solar energy remains unexploited and the implementation of solar systems in the Nordic built environment is still facing several obstacles - among others - handling complex shading effects and solar inter-building reflections, adverse and changing weather conditions, design and architectural building integration including aesthetics, technologies, legal and cultural barriers, flexibility aspects, performance issues and economic constraints.

In this context, the objective of this PhD study is to turn the Nordic conditions to unique opportunities to (i) enhance the exploitation of the solar energy to realize its full potential; (ii) accelerate the penetration of solar energy technologies and increase the social awareness around impacts and benefits to deploy solar energy systems; (iii) optimize the integration of solar energy systems in the Nordic built environment; (iv) elaborate solar potential forecasting in real-time (i.e. short term 4-48 hours) to predict solar energy generation; (v) implement climate change scenarios to evaluate the exploitation of solar energy (i.e. in a medium (20-50 years) and long (100 years) term perspective).

In that regard, the role of digitalization of solar energy, intended as the implementation of advanced designing and modelling techniques, computer graphics and geographical information system (GIS), has been shown to be a promising approach. This PhD study aims to enable significant innovation in the digitalization and visualization of solar energy data on urban surfaces (ground, roofs and facades) by extending the traditional solar mapping, such as “static solar cadastre”.

To do this, the appointed candidate will collaborate with a “twin PhD candidate” enrolled in the research group of Geomatics within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who will focus in developing deep learning-based approaches for automated reconstruction of 3D building models with detailed façade elements and semantic information, aiming to support simulations, calculations, queries and interactive visualizations in various applications such as solar energy in the built environment.

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, various international engagement activities are planned in connection with the PhD project, among them the following:

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in engineering and technology, architecture, natural sciences, geoinformatics and/or computer sciences 
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level 
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education. 
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program (link) 
  • Modelling and simulation of solar systems and software tools for solar irradiation, daylighting, building energy, parametric modelling design software, and geographical information systems.
  • Proficient use of programming language and coding in general, and prior knowledge of Python and/or MATLAB + Simulink.
  • Weather forecasting techniques and elaboration of climate prediction models to predict solar power and geometry at different time horizons in climate change scenarios.
  • Advanced 3D modelling (i.e. machine learning) and computer graphics techniques to calculate solar irradiation on urban surfaces considering complex urban solar phenomena and elaborate urban form optimization scenarios in 3D model cityscape visualization.
  • Data analysis and implementing machine learning (or deep learning) for solar radiation modelling and optimization will be considered an advantage.
  • Experimental and/or theoretical experience in solar energy systems, geomatics and machine learning (or deep learning) will be considered an advantage.
  • Understanding of photogrammetry especially the pre-knowledge in object detection from optical images.
  • 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 the selected applicants.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research 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 considered an advantage.
  • Experiences in publications in international scientific journals and conferences will be considered an advantage.
  • General knowledge and experience within engineering and technology, architecture, natural sciences, and computer science.
  • Norwegian language skills will be an advantage.

Personal characteristics

 We look for candidates who show clear signs of independence, teamwork spirit, original thinking and scientific mindset.

  • Honesty and high ethical standards.
  • Highly motivated for research work.
  • High level of personal responsibility aiming to challenge the status quo and promoting new initiatives.
  • Ability to work independently and part of an interdisciplinary team in accordance with the project objectives.
  • Ability to acquire new knowledge quickly and being able to use existing knowledge in new ways.
  • Ability to appropriately encounter and handle any arising challenges and problems during the research work.
  • Suitable candidates should be flexible and solution-oriented.

We offer

Salary and conditions

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 ( 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 announcement.
  • CV, certificates and diplomas 
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted. 
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position. 
  • A draft research plan or project proposal (max 2 pages) for this 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 announcement. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • Name and address of three referees including telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work (up to 5 works)
  • The required documentation of English language proficiency.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

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 and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

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.

In accordance with The Public 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-175/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 01.08.2021 

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 August 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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