PhD Candidate within the Area of Renewable Energy:Is it possible for the Energy System

Trondheim, Norway
17 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
16 Dec 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Department of Electric Power Engineering has a vacancy (100% position) as PhD candidate within the area of Renewable Energy: Is it possible for the energy system to be 100% renewable?

The prospective candidate will be part of the Electricity Markets and Energy System Planning (EMESP) research group, and the project will be seen in context with other ongoing research.

The main supervisor of the PhD candidate will be Professor Magnus Korpås, Department of Electric Power Engineering. Co-supervisors will be Professor and Vice-Dean for Sustainability and Innovation Ole-Morten Midtgård, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering and Professor Espen Moe, Department of Sociology and Political Science.
The position reports to the Head of Department.

Duties of the position

Project description

Electrification both of final demand of energy and in supply of alternative fuels is the key to decarbonize the energy system, which presently accounts for about 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The path towards a fully electrified energy system based on sustainable sources is not generally agreed upon, but renewable energy from water, wind and the sun (WWS) are seen as essential in the future energy mix. However, fossil fuels, biomass and nuclear energy have prominent roles in most scenarios.

In this project, the PhD-student shall explore the following hypothesis: “It is possible – both in theory and practice – for the energy system to be fully electrified and 100% based on renewable energy within 2050.” A yes or no answer to the hypothesis is not expected. Rather, the project should explore constraints and conditions under which the hypothesis may become true, if at all possible. The hypothesis could be explored for specific countries, regions or globally and for various mixes of the WWS technologies. In the initial phase of the project, the scope will be delimited. Possible paths to explore are indicated below.

  • What is the technical potential for WWS seen in comparison to the limitations in terms the Earth’s ecological ceiling and societies’ social foundation?
  • What are advantages and disadvantages of transitioning to a 100% renewable energy system compared to more conventional scenarios that also include fossil fuels, biomass and nuclear energy?
  • Will the technical performance of a 100% WWS-system be satisfactory considering also the intermittent nature of the sources, and what is needed in terms of mix of the various sources, smart grids, flexibility, energy storage and market design?
  • Is it possible to transform the energy system to 100% WWS in time to avoid anthropogenic global warming less than 1.5 degrees C? If not, what could be a realistic timeframe?
  • What are the constraints in terms of economy, and factors such as the society, politics, law, regulations?

​​​​The project should start with a study of published energy scenarios until 2050 and beyond. Methods must include literature survey of the state-of-the-art. Simulation software shall be used for technical analysis. Such software should preferably be available in the public domain, and/or developed in the project. A possible part outcome of the project is in the development of novel methods and/or their implementation in software.

Required selection criteria

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 defense of the scientific thesis.

The candidate is expected to fully complete the course work and the PhD thesis within the period of employment, which could be 3 or 4 years. The doctoral examination may take place after the period of employment. The option of 4-year employment would imply 1 year of duties as teaching Assistant for the Department and may be offered to a candidate with clear motivation and ability for such work, if the Department sees the need. This will be clarified during and after any interview.

The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree with strong academic background with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale.

The prospective candidate should have a scientific, technical or technical-economical background that gives sufficient background knowledge for the project. This background could be, for example, a Master’s degree in electrical engineering, sustainable energy engineering, physics, mathematics or industrial economics with a suitable technical specialization. A degree in economy and acquired research experience in the field could also be relevant. The candidate must have a genuine interest in sustainability and renewable energy and must have a keen interest in the wider consequences of technology (energy). The candidate must be self-driven, and some prior research experience or experience from industry or the public sector will be valued positively in the assessment. Furthermore, the candidate must – as part of the application – write a minimum 2-page draft project proposal with basis in state-of-the-art and their own background, as well as the description above. The draft should indicate concrete research questions and methods to be used, while also suggesting a delimitation of the project.  A cover letter must also be submitted, where the personal motivation for undertaking the project is explained.

Relevant scientific publications in international journals and peer-reviewed conferences are merited.

The PhD project requires excellent analytical and communication skills. 

The applicants for the position must be able to work independently, but also to collaborate with the other project participants and other colleagues at the department.

Preferred selection criteria

Applicants must have very good English language skills, written and spoken. 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.

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

Personal characteristics

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

  • Be structured, targeted and solution-oriented
  • The successful candidate will be a team player in a group with the project consortium, professors, researchers, PhDs and scientists from the industrial sector
  • Self-driven with a strong ability to work independently when required
  • Proven ability to work with an interdisciplinary team
  • Have good dissemination skills
  • Personal skills like a positive and friendly attitude, and contributing to a sustainable social environment will also be valued

We offer

Salary and conditions

During the employment period at NTNU, the PhD candidate will be remunerated at gross NOK 491 200 per annum. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The employment contract is for three years; however, there is a possibility for extension up to four years if selected for assistantship.

Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Electrical Power Engineering. Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU.

As a PhD candidate, you will have to successfully complete the PhD academic training programme; the training includes mandatory course work and other obligatory activities. Within the first three months of your employment, you must formally qualify for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

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 the personal motivation, summarising scientific work, and how the applicant sees her/his background suitable.
  • A draft research proposal (1 page) 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. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • CV (summarising education, positions, pedagogical experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activity).
  • Copies of educational certificates (both bachelor and master) academic transcript of records and letters of recommendation. 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.
  • Names and contact information of at least two references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number).

In assessing the applications, emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications, the cover letter and the ideas and/or originality of the draft research proposal in shortlisting of candidates. Interviews with the best-qualified candidates will be arranged.

Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration. 

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.

The Department of Electric Power Engineering works closely with key players in the Norwegian electricity supply sector, which manage critical infrastructure. A comprehensive risk assessment of the candidates' research interests and potential activities related to national threat assessments will therefore also form basis for the final selection of candidates.

In the final assessment of the candidates also strategic considerations at the Department of Electric Power Engineering will be taken into account.

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.

According to the 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.

Questions about the position can be directed to Professor Magnus Korpås,, or to Professor Ole-Morten Midtgård,

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 2021/57410 when applying.

Application deadline: 16.12.21

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 Electric Power Engineering

The Department of Electric Power Engineering is one of the seven departments at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Our department is Norway’s leading in the field, and our vision is to be at the centre of the digital, green shift. We have excellent collaboration with business and industry as well as other universities and research organizations internationally. This gives us outstanding opportunities for interdisciplinary research with high relevance for the society, addressing industrial needs and global challenges.

Deadline 16th December 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Campus Gløshagen

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