PhD Position in Regional Climate Modelling for Wind Farm Optimization and Control
Catholic University of Leuven Regional Climate Studies

This PhD position is based in the Regional Climate Studies (RCS) research group headed by Prof. Nicole van Lipzig, which is part of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The position is embedded in the FWO Meso–Micro Wind Farm project, funded by the Flemish Science Foundation. The project is a collaboration between the research group of Prof. van Lipzig and the Turbulent Flow Simulation and Optimization (TFSO) research group of Prof. Johan Meyers at the department of Mechanical Engineering. The PhD research is one of two research positions on this project, and focusses on improving wind farm parameterizations in mesoscale models and assessing the interaction between large wind farm clusters and mesoscale atmospheric phenomena.


Modern wind farms grow in size: Europe’s largest operational offshore wind farm today is the London Array with 175 Siemens turbines for an installed capacity of 630MW, while recent offshore tenders, such as Borselle I & II, surpass the GW size. Moreover, also turbines grow in size. The largest turbine to date, the Vestas V164, has a tip-height of about 190m. It is well known that wind farms at these scales interact with the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) through the accumulated effect of turbine wakes. Therefore, design and simulation tools focus on what is called in atmospheric terms the micro-scale regime. However, very recently, it was shown that large wind farms excite gravity waves in the free atmosphere, which interact significantly with the farm’s efficiency. This happens at scales that are much larger than micro scales, falling in the atmospheric meso-scale range. To date, the inclusion of meso-scale effects in wind-farm optimization and control is fully absent, and insight into the interaction that takes place at the interface between meso and micro scales is lacking. In the Meso–Micro Wind Farm project, we study these interactions using high-fidelity two-way coupled meso–micro simulation tools that we develop for that purpose. Moreover, we consider for the first time ever the implications of wind-farm meso–micro interaction on optimal design and operation of wind farms and wind farm clusters.
The research concentrates on improving existing wind farm parameterization in the regional climate model COSMO-CLM, allowing for wind farm optimization and control. Calibration of model parameters will be done based on results from large eddy model simulation available from TFSO. COSMO-CLM is a non-hydrostatic mesoscale model and in this project, you will use it to study the interaction between large wind farm clusters and mesoscale weather systems like gravity waves, sea breezes, coastal fronts, convective and wind structures. You will assess the effect of mesoscale weather systems on wind farm power extraction and study the potential for optimization and wind farm control. Moreover you will assess the interaction between neighboring wind farms and get better insight in optimal set point for wind farm operation taking into account the yield from the entire cluster instead of focusing on one farm. You will closely collaborate with the PhD student working at the TFSO group and compare your results with the high-fidelity meso–micro model and fast wind-farm model that TFSO will develop in the course of the project. RCS is a member of the Climate Limited-area Modelling-Community and has strong experience in developing and applying COSMO-CLM.


Candidates have a master degree (at the start of their contract) in one of the following or related fields: earth- and environmental sciences (geography, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, bioscience engineering, etc.), fluid mechanics, physics, mathematics, informatics or civil engineering. Students graduating this academic year (June) are also encouraged to apply. You should have a good background or interest in 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.


Timeline and remuneration: Ideal start time is May 1st 2020, but earlier and later starting dates can be negotiated. 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 1900 Euro (in case of dependent children or spouse, the amount can be somewhat higher). In exceptional case, applications for Postdoctoral researcher can be 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. an abstract of a paper with you as main author, or an abstract of your bachelor or master thesis (max. 1 page)
d) a list of at least two references: names, phone numbers, and email addresses
e) some proof of proficiency in English (e.g. language test results from TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, or CPE)
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Nicole Van Lipzig, tel.: +32 16 32 64 53, mail: or Prof. dr. Johan Meyers, tel.: +32 16 32 25 02, mail:

Applications by email are not considered. If you are interested in more positions, please submit your application for each of them separately. Review of applications will begin on 1 March 2020 and continue until the position is filled.

You can apply for this job no later than May 31, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: May 31, 2020
  • Tags: Aard- en Omgevingswetenschappen
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