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Optimal control of wind farms for power optimization and load reduction
KU Leuven
Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline:
PhD Position on optimal control of wind farms for power optimization and load reduction

Promoter: J. Meyers
Contact: Prof. J. Meyers, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Celestijnenlaan 300A, B3001 Leuven, Belgium. T: +32(0)16 322502. Google Scholar
Apply using the KU Leuven online application platform. (Applications by email are not considered!)

This PhD position is based in the Turbulent Flow Simulation and Optimization (TFSO) research group headed by Prof. Dr. Johan Meyers, which is part of the department of Mechanical Engineering. The position is embedded in a large interdepartmental project on “Efficient methods for large-scale PDE-constrained optimization in the presence of uncertainty and complex technological constraints”, which is funded by the special research fund of KU Leuven. The project is a collaboration between the research group of Prof. Meyers and the Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics Section (NUMA) of Prof. Vandewalle at the department of Computer Science. The PhD research is one of 10 research positions in this project, and focusses on developing efficient methodologies for optimal control of wind farms using multiphysics and multiscale wind-farm models, and their use for multi-objective power and load optimization.


In recent years there has been a lot of interest in control of wind farms to improve energy extraction or allow power tracking (relevant for power grid balancing and ancillary services). In most cases, control models that are considered are based on simplified wake models, and are often even steady state. KU Leuven pioneered the use of large-eddy simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer for optimal control of wind farms, considering not just steady state optimization of turbine set-points, but also dynamic changes of set-points that directly interact with the turbulent flow structures in the wind farm (see, e.g., Goit and Meyers, J. Fluid Mech. 768, 2015). This methodology has led to the discovery of new physical flow-control mechanisms for improved wake mixing based on dynamically induced vortex shedding (see, Munters & Meyers, Wind Energ. Sci. 3, 2018; Yilmaz & Meyers, Phys. Fluids 30, 2018). However, the practical realization of wind-farm control should not only incorporate power maximization or power tracking, but also aspects of unsteady loading, leading to a multi-objective optimal control problem. This requires an optimal control approach that includes both flow aspects as well as elements from nonlinear structural mechanics, i.e. an aero-elastic turbine model. Although such coupled approaches are available in high-fidelity wind-farm simulation environments such as SP-Wind (developed at KU Leuven), their integration in an optimal control framework is an open challenge. Such an integration opens up many interesting new perspectives, and in particular would allow for studying and understanding the interaction between turbulent flow structures, control and loads, which is a topic that eludes the wind-farm community to date.


Research: the research focuses on the formulation of efficient and fast optimal control methods for wind farm control based on coupled flow structural models of wind farms and wind turbines. This requires the development of accurate adjoint formulations for the nonlinear multibody turbine structural model in SP-Wind as well adjoint formulations for the multi-rate time stepping procedure that couples flow and structural models. Moreover, proper regularization approaches need to be developed for the objective gradients, as numerical errors in the flow model can contaminate the gradients in the structural model in the multiscale coupling approach. Finally, appropriate quasi-Newton or thrust-region optimization methods need to be developed that allow to escape local minima that are abundant in this type of optimization problems. Based on these new numerical methodologies, the research further focusses on the inclusion of fatigue loading in wind-farm optimal control studies, allowing for the first time to explore potential benevolent interaction between turbulence, control and structural loading of turbines in a wind farm.

Timeline and remuneration: Ideal start time is Fall 2019. The PhD position lasts for the duration of four years, and is carried out at the University of Leuven. During this time, the candidate also takes up a limited amount (approx. 10% of the time) of teaching activities. The remuneration is generous and is in line with the standard KU Leuven rates. It consists of a net monthly salary of about 2000 Euro.


Candidates have a master degree in one of the following or related fields: fluid mechanics, aerospace or mathematical engineering, numerical mathematics, or computational physics. They should have a good background or interest in fluid mechanics, optimization, simulation, and programming (Fortran, C/C++, Matlab, python, …). Proficiency in English is a requirement. The position adheres to the European policy of balanced ethnicity, age and gender. Both men and women are encouraged to apply.


To apply, use the KU Leuven online application platform (applications by email are not considered) Please include:
a) an academic CV and a PDF of your diplomas and transcript of course work and grades
b) a statement of research interests and career goals, indicating why you are interested in this position
c) a sample of technical writing, e.g. a paper with you as main author, or your bachelor or master thesis
d) two recommendation letters
d) a list of at least two additional references (different from recommendation letters): names, phone numbers, and email addresses
e) some proof of proficiency in English (e.g. language test results from TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, or CPE)

Please send your application as soon as possible and before October 1st, 2019 at the latest.
Decision: when a suitable candidate applies.
Starting date: candidates can start immediately. Start preferable in Fall 2019.

Postdoctoral researcher in wind turbine dynamics and lifetime prediction
Chalmers University of Technology
Göteborg, Sweden
Application deadline:
Information about the division and the research The division of Dynamics at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences is seeking a new postdoctoral researcher in the area of wind turbine dynamics. The research will be conducted within the project "Site-Adaptive Analysis Methods to Predict and Enhance Lifetime of Wind Turbines" and is funded by Swedish Energy Agency and industrial partners via Swedish Wind Power Technology Center (SWPTC). The intended outcome will lead to more cost-efficient operation of wind turbines and therby contribute to a more sustainable energy production in Sweden. The aim of your research project will be to develop methods for evaluating wind turbine operation with emphasis on predicting lifetime on drive train components (bearings, gears, etc.). Hence, you will consider the sequence “from wind to fatigue life”, and by simulation investigate how the site-specific conditions (terrain, forest, etc.) affect the fatigue life of turbine drive trains. Your project is part of a larger effort to develop simulation tools to assess the effect from terrain, such as topography on wind turbine operation. The research is carried out within the Swedish Wind Power Technology Center (SWPTC) toghether with industrial partners. The department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2) has about 300 employees and consists of seven research divisions within the areas of mechanical engineering and maritime sciences: Dynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Vehicle Safety, Vehicle Engineering & Autonomous Systems, Combustion and Propulsion Systems. Marine Technology, Maritime Studies. The seven divisions conduct fundamental and applied research in close collaboration with national and international universities and industries. The department also offers and contributes to bachelor and masters programs in areas such as Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering and Marine Engineering. M2 is characterized by an international environment with employees and students from around the world. The division of Dynamics has about 10 faculty members and 10 PhD students where the research activities are canalized via our research groups: Mechanical systems, Structural dynamics, Wave propagation, and Railway mechanics. The research focuses on various solid dynamics problems, especially vibrational problems but also other fields such as fatigue, wear, contact mechanics, wave propagation, optimization and dynamics of smart material. The projects range from basic to applied research, and includes theoretical modelling, numerical methods and experimental activities. Experiments are performed at the department's laboratory space "Vibrations and Smart Structures Lab" and through field measurements. As to our teaching activities, we provide several courses on bachelor level within mechanics and solid mechanics. At the masters' level, courses are given within the finite element method, rigid body dynamics, structural dynamics, fatigue and fracture mechanics. The details of the departmental research activities may be found here. Major responsibilities Your major responsibility will be to pursue the research and development within the project. You are expected to develop your own scientific ideas and concepts, and to communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing. You will be guided by senior researchers from the research group Mechanical Systems at the division of Dynamics and collaborate with academic and industrial project partners. The position also includes teaching on undergraduate or/and master's levels as well as supervising master's and/or PhD students to a certain extent. The position is meritorious for future research duties within academia as well as industry/the public sector. Position summary The position is a full-time temporary employment with a competitive salary and with social benefits. It is limited to a maximum of two years, starting with a one-year employment, followed by an evaluation. If the work is proceeding sufficiently well the employment will be extended for a second year. Qualifications To qualify as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the current project, you must have a PhD degree in a relevant field and your PhD degree must be from another university than Chalmers. The PhD degree should generally not be older than three years. You have a strong interest in Solid mechanics and Dynamics modeling and simulation and experience from Wind Turbine Dynamics. You like to work in interdisciplinary projects and you have the ability to discuss and communicate your work with people of different backgrounds. We also believe that you are a motivated person, with a strong curiosity and a genuine wish to learn more and develop your skills and knowledge further in the fields of research, research communication and project management. Chalmers continuously strives to be an attractive employer. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers. Application via