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Economic and environmental impact analysis of wind turbine based on alternative materials (Advert Reference: SF18/MCE/CHEUNG)

  • Full or part time
    Dr Wai Ming Cheung
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Cleaner environmental technologies offer various benefits such as reduced emissions, less waste and cost savings from minimum energy and resource requirements during production and operation. Wind turbines that operate in a wind farm are such technologies which are capable of achieving these advantages. As a result the installation of wind farms across the world has increased to 30% in the past decade. However, benefits such as less waste and cost savings can only be achieved with optimum design and development solutions. Although the design stage constitutes only 5% of the total product cost, its influence in design and development stages could contribute up to 75-90% of the total lifecycle cost. By nature, product development is a complex and influential activity, where decision makings at the design and specification stages of product development are responsible for up to 80% of all environmental and financial impacts.

The objectives of this project are:
[1]. Investigate alternative materials for potential technology improvement at the design stage. Alternative materials are being used in a wind turbine design, however, the effect of its economic feasibility and environmental impacts studies have not been researched in depth.
[2]. One of the challenges for wind energy development is reduction of cost and this is usually obtained through minimum capital investment and therefore a system/method that can estimate return-on-investment (ROI) and CO2 emissions would be very useful to both wind turbine manufacturers and wind energy service providers.

Hence the proposed study will clearly be novel being the first of its kind to explore alternative materials for technology improvement opportunities [2] and allow policy makers to make better decisions in terms of environmental impacts and economic feasibility of wind turbines. The candidate we are looking for, should have:
• Background knowledge in design and sustainability
• Interest in Life Cycle Assessment and cost quantification
• Good mathematical skills

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in engineering, materials science; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in wind or renewable energy; environmental engineering. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/MCE/CHEUNG) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


• Ozoemena, M, *Cheung, W.M. and Hasan, R (2018) “Comparative LCA of technology improvement opportunities for a 1.5 MW wind turbine in the context of an onshore wind farm” Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, Vol.21, No. 1, Pages: 173-190.

• Simons, P.J. and Cheung, W.M., 2016. Development of a quantitative analysis system for greener and economically sustainable wind farms. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol 133, Pages: 886 – 898.

• Ozoemena, M., Hasan, R., Cheung, W.M., (2016), “Analysis of Technology Improvement Opportunities for a 1.5MW Wind Turbine using a Hybrid Stochastic Approach in LCA”, Renewable Energy, Vol. 93, Pages. 369-382.

• Aso, R and Cheung, W.M., (2015), “Towards Greener Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines: Analysis of Carbon Emissions, Energy and Costs at the Early Design Stage”, Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol. 87, Pages 263–274.

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