PhD Research Fellow - Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences

Deadline: 15.10.2021

University of South-Eastern Norway

The University of South-Eastern Norway, USN, is one of Norway’s largest higher education institutions, with around 18,000 students and 1,900 employees across eight different campuses.

We offer studies, research and knowledge dissemination, all targeting various professions and working life and with a high level of quality internationally. Our goal as a University is to create value both for the individual student and for business and commerce, the public sector and society in general. We achieve this by utilising the best tools we have: education and research.

USN is a University with a strong social commitment where studies and working life are integrated. At USN, we focus on practice-relevant, profession-oriented and applied research and education.

The students shall benefit from innovative educational methods and challenging studies closely associated with society's requirements and needs. They will learn how to adapt to a society and working life that is constantly changing. The University shall meet major social challenges with knowledge and expertise, helping to promote practical solutions, structural changes and new ways of thinking. USN’s academic activities shall be embodied by a clear dedication to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The University aims to realise this main profile in close cooperation with society and working life.

For more information on USN, please go to www.usn.no

The Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences has a vacancy for a position as PhD Research Fellow in “Multiphysics-informed Digital Twins for Real-time Optimal Operation of Hydropower Units”

About the position

The Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences (TNM) has a vacancy for a temporary, full time position as PhD Research Fellow in “System Optimization of Grid-Services in Flexible Hydropower Units for Future Power Systems” from 1 January 2022.

The position is located at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, and Cybernetics and reports to the Head of Department. The place of employment is Porsgrunn.

The employment period will be three years of full time with no teaching obligations, and there is a premise for employment that the PhD Research Fellow is enrolled in USN’s PhD program in Process, Energy, and Automation Engineering within three months of accession in the position.

About the PhD-project

The electricity sector is undergoing a transition toward higher shares of intermittent renewable sources. Hydropower facilities will provide new services in the new mix of sources and be a key agent to secure a sustainable energy transition. Its super-flexible abilities can be an actor for large-scale energy storage, power system stability improvements, demand-side management, and increased interconnections. In the future, increased demands for capacity, flexibility, and stability will require coordinated R&D involvement from all players in these processes (e.g., grid owners, power producers, and the supervisory authority).

The position is part of the project: System optimization between the power producer and grid owners for more efficient system services (SysOpt). In this project, Transmission and Distribution System Operators (TSO and DSOs) go together with power producers and other service providers to develop new competencies, break technology-barriers, and propose innovative methods related to voltage control. The goal is to strengthen the future power system operational security of supply and power transfer capability while reducing investment costs and transmission losses by optimizing the interplay between the power producer and grid owners through enhanced coordinated actions.

The PhD candidate will work with other PhD candidates at USN and NTNU who are covering different aspects of the same topic. The PhD candidate will also collaborate with the industrial project participants. In addition, the position will include a 12 months stay at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory ) in the US. The work of this PhD study will be associated with the ongoing work on hydropower flexibility within the three USN research groups HPTD, SMART, and TMCC, in close contact with the nationally funded Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) for the hydropower sector (HydroCen). The project aims to strengthen the overall digital competence at USN in collaboration with HydroCen in terms of control of hydropower plants. In particular, the student may focus on the following tasks.

The research for this doctoral position focuses on New technical solutions for service providers within Hydropower systems. Research questions are: To what extent is it possible to identify the optimal operation of the production facility in a highly varying electric grid system? What is the optimal hydro-design for future challenges? What is the available thermal expansion in hydrogenerators for reactive power boosting in case of extreme scenarios? How can compatible grey-box models (combining mechanistic and data-driven models) for real-time monitoring and control that depend on the online capacity of the machine, efficiency, and operational conditions costs be developed?

The work starts with initial system studies to identify the potential for improved operation. The work will create multi-physics-based FEA models of relevant synchronous machines, including different loss calculations, ventilation, and heat transfer dynamics (cooling capability). This work will further be used for developing online models (e.g., lumped parameter modeling) and inform neural networks with detailed multi-physics modeling. Emphasis should be on maximizing the utilization of the plant and lifetime while minimizing cost, and wear and tear. The work will heavily rely on a first-principle multi-physics approach rather than merely classifying huge amounts of collected data, which would lack the fundamental physics underneath. Both electromagnetic and hydrodynamics could be included as multi-physics aspects for co-simulation and evaluation at NREL labs. As a result, a strong background in engineering physics and/or Multiphysics electromagnetics simulations is a prerequisite to be successful. Further, different hydro designs will be considered for enhanced service, e.g., hybrid hydro solutions such as both converter-fed in pumping and direct grid connected machines. Moreover, a suitable (detailed) analysis of the ventilation capability is needed at different speeds of the generator. In addition, a suitable control design should be utilized for operation of hydropower plant.

The technology developments will be validated in industrial study-cases, and in the National Smartgrids Laboratory and/or Generator lab at NTNU. In addition, joint HIL (hardware-in the-loop) experiments at NREL facilities will be carried out. The work will perform a high fidelity evaluation and help reduce the technological barriers in the adoption of data-driven representations in hydropower applications for electric grid services.

The work will be communicated through regularly publish results in scientific journals and conferences and present the project to relevant national and international actors.


Qualifications in engineering/technology with solid knowledge within:(i) Electrical Power Engineering(ii) Electromagnetics and design of rotating machines(iii) Development of models for dynamic systems(iv) in-depth skills with FEA analysis tools such as Comsol or Ansys etc.(v) computer programming, with emphasis on languages such as MATLAB, Python, etc.

The work will include the application of control techniques. Thus, it is desirable to have some background in control engineering, but not a requirement.

A strong background in engineering physics and/or multiphysics electromagnetics simulations is a prerequisite to be successful.

The application will be further strengthen if documentation are provided that the FEA analysis are applied in thesis or in publications by the applicant.

Other qualifications

  • Good written and oral English language skills is required.
  • Experience with publishing papers and having experience in teaching activities will be an advantage.
  • It is a requirement that the successful applicant is granted admission to the university’s doctoral programme in Process, Energy, and Automation Engineering within three months of accession in the position. For admission to the Programme the weighted average grade is B or higher is required.
  • The candidate must have the ability to work independently and at the same time have the motivation to share knowledge. Co-operation between staff members is an integrated part of the working atmosphere at the University of South-Eastern Norway. The candidate must be motivated and demonstrate a proven ability to work effectively within a team and in a collegiate manner to formulate and realise common objectives. Personal suitability for the post will be emphasised.
  • The research area for the position may include technologies referred to in the Ministry's export control regulations, and the candidate may be eligible to obtain a security clearance.

Personal characteristics

  • Strongly motivated and ambitious;
  • Structured, targeted and solution oriented;
  • Have motivation to work interdisciplinary;
  • The successful candidate should be creative and actively contribute in the team he/she will be part of;
  • Have good dissemination skills;
  • Personal skills like a positive and friendly attitude, and contributing to a sustainable social environment will also be valued.
  • In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education,experience and personal suitability, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement.

We offer

  • A stimulating and growing research environment, with good opportunities to develop your career and your academic skills.
  • An open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues.
  • A good social environment.
  • Attractive welfare benefits in the State Pension Plan.
  • Opportunity for physical activities within working hours.


PhD Research Fellow (code 1017): NOK 491 200 a year. Further promotion will be based on time served in the position.

A statutory contribution to the state pension plan will be deducted from the employee’s salary.

Other information

The Academic Appointments Board for PhD Research Fellowships is responsible for the appointment. An expert assessment of applicants will be carried out. The candidates deemed best qualified will be invited to an interview.

The person appointed must comply with the laws, regulations and agreements that apply at any given time to the post. Please note that approved work permit is a prerequisite for the employment.

According to its human resources policy, the University of South-Eastern Norway targets a balanced gender composition and aims to recruit persons with a background as an immigrant.

The Department has few women appointed in scientific positions, and women are therefore particularly encouraged to apply.

The University contributes to the Inkluderingsdugnaden (a voluntary scheme to promote inclusion), and it is our aim that our employees, to the fullest extent possible, shall reflect the diversity of the general population. We therefore encourage qualified applicants with disabilities to apply for the post. The University will facilitate the workplace for employees with disabilities.

Pursuant to section 25, 2nd paragraph of the Freedom of Information Act, information on the applicant may be disclosed even if the applicant has requested not be included on the list of applicants. Applicants will be notified if such requests are not allowed.

Contact information

For more information about the position, please contact:

For questions regarding the recruitment process, please contact:

How to apply

The University of South-Eastern Norway makes use of online application management. Applicants to the post must register their application and CV with enclosures online via the Jobbnorge recruitment portal by clicking on the link on the right-hand side – “Søk stillingen” (Apply for the post).

The following documents shall be attached to the online application:

  • Transcripts and diplomas of Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (120 ECTS)
  • Other relevant certificates (if applicable, must be specified)
  • A x page project description or motivation letter
  • Documentation of english proficiency [if required for the position]
  • Any scientific publications and a list of these
  • Three references (contact information)

Please note that all documents must be in a Scandinavian language or in English. Any translations must be certified.

The application will be assessed on the basis of the attached documentation as requested above. Each applicant is responsible for ensuring that the required documentation has been uploaded with the application deadline.

The University has been awarded a Charter & Code certificate by the European Commission, and is entitled to use the HR Excellence in Research (HRS4R) logo. The University is also a member of the EURAXESS network, which contributes to good working conditions for mobile researchers.

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