The effect of non-neutral winds on wind power aerodynamics

In this project you will perform experimental work in a thermally-stratified wind tunnel to address the effect of different atmospheric conditions on wind power aerodynamics.

3 years
Application deadline
Funding information

University fees are fully covered with a stipend of £14057 per year, tax free, in line with research councils.


Renewable sources provided 29.3% of the electricity generated in the UK in 2017, with offshore wind turbines producing 21% of that, and registering an increased capacity of 27% during the same year [1]. These trends are predicted to grow in line with 2030 and 2050 targets [2]. As our society becomes ever-more dependent on wind power, it is increasingly important to gain a deeper understanding and more accurate predictability of our wind power availability, the aero-elastic loads on the wind turbine blades, and the associated issues of turbine control.

According to the UK government, offshore wind is intended to deliver 30GW of by 2030 [3]. This target is only achievable if you consider an expected drastic increase in size and capacity of both single wind turbines and wind farms. It is ever-more important to the industry to develop reliable and fast prediction tools to estimate the potential of wind energy extraction and the static and dynamic loads on the turbine blades and rotor torque. This is because as wind turbines grow in size and capacity [3], they tend to occupy a larger portion of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), and therefore, the larger turbine blades are subject to increasingly significant non-uniform and unsteady incoming flow conditions. Similarly, stable boundary layers (e.g. night time) are typically much shallower than their neutral counterparts; therefore, the length scales characterising the wind turbine and the ABL become comparable. With increasing size, it also becomes more important how the flow is correlated across the streamtube ahead of a turbine – assuming that the turbulence is coherent (i.e. highly correlated), this could result in drastically overburdening the structure of the turbine, with a substantial loss in aerodynamic efficiency.

You will focus on the characterisation of wind turbine wakes in different atmospheric conditions, and in particular, at their interaction through a series of wind tunnel tests. It is envisaged that three-dimensional laser doppler anemometry will be used in conjunction with other measurement techniques, whilst also measuring the power output of the wind turbines


1] Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics - DUKES (2018). Department for Business, Energy Industrial Strategy.

[2] Offshore Wind Section Deal (2019). Department for Business, Energy Industrial Strategy.

[3] NECP (2019). The UK’s draft integrated National Energy and Climate Plan, Department for Business, Energy Industrial Strategy.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered for this studentship you must be a UK or EU student. If English is not your first language, you will need to provide proof of your ability, for example an IELTS test score.

1st or upper 2nd class degree is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (please see project descriptions). Candidates with a lower class of Bachelors degree, but a good performance at the Masters level ("merit" or above) will also be considered.

How to apply

To apply for this studentship, you will first need to apply for our Aerodynamic and Environmental Flow PhD. Within this application, please clearly mention this studentship to be considered.

Aerodynamic and Environmental Flow PhD

Contact details

Marco Placidi
01 AB 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 684632

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