PhD Candidate in Digitalization of Solar Energy

Trondheim, Norway
17 Dec 2021
End of advertisement period
31 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has a vacancy for a PhD Candidate 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

The PhD position is defined under the NFR FRIPRO-FRINATEK Ground-breaking Research project called HELIOS “Enhancing optimal exploitation of solar energy in Nordic cities through digitalization of built environment”.

HELIOS aims to break the paradigm of solar energy use in the Nordic climate, by overcoming the common false beliefs that have discouraged the adoption of solar systems for a long time in Scandinavia. In that regard, HELIOS has the ambition to turn the Nordic conditions into unique opportunities to accelerate the penetration of solar energy in the Nordic built environment by increasing the social awareness around impacts and benefits of solar energy and realizing its full potential through the deployment and the optimal integration of solar systems, using Trondheim as a pilot city.

HELIOS aims to develop an advanced co-simulation approach by combining numerical equations, algorithms, and simulation tools with observational data, in-field experimental campaigns, and monitoring of solar irradiance. The solar cadastre, grounded on this approach, contributes to change the role of solar energy in the Nordics by demonstrating the unexploited solar energy potential and expanding scientific knowledge dealing with complex urban phenomena (e.g. solar inter-building reflections, shadow cast) in various spatial domains (building, neighbourhood, and city) and predicting solar energy potential at multiple temporal terms (short, mid and long).

In this framework, 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. This application 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.

The PhD position is defined with joint supervision between NTNU and HEPIA (Haute École du Paysage, d'ingénierie et d'architecture de Genève, member of the University of Applied Science and Arts Western Switzerland HES-SO), which means the PhD candidate should visit both NTNU and HEPIA. This requires the candidate being welcome to stay in Switzerland, with a minimum period of 4/6-months (details will be discussed with the short-listed candidates).

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:

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

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective upon completion is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement for the PhD study is that the candidate has completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in engineering and technology, architecture, natural sciences, geoinformatics and/or computer sciences or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of ( If the candidate does not have letter grades from previous studies, the candidate must have an equally good academic foundation. If the candidate is unable to meet these criteria, the candidate may be considered only if the candidate can document that he/she is particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The candidate should have prior knowledge, research and/or professional experiences in:

  • Modelling and simulation of solar systems and software tools for solar irradiation, daylighting, building energy, parametric modelling design software
  • Advanced knowledge and use on GIS tools and software (ArcGIS, QGIS, etc.) - programming WebGIS interfaces and applications will be considered as an advantage
  • Proficient use of programming language and coding in general, and prior knowledge of Python and/or MATLAB + Simulink - knowledge on JAVA and C will be considered as an advantage
  • 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
  • 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

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 as specified above. 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 491 200 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 on a daily basis.

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 in the 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
  • 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
  • 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/affiliation 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 follow 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 HR Consultant Martine Sulen, 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-274/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 31.01.2022

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 31st January 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Institutt for bygg- og miljøteknikk

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