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KESS2 Scholarship: Techno-economic Analysis of Solar Heat Farms: Hydrogen, Water or Electricity? (MbyRes)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 26, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description


Here is an exciting opportunity to study the application of solar heat farms (based on arrays of solar thermal collectors and/or solar photovoltaic modules), which could lead to entirely new approaches to providing low carbon heat at scale.

The selected candidate will apply their energy systems knowledge and scientific skills and ambition to the investigation of solar heat farm configurations which, in the UK context, can deliver heat at the lowest levelized cost. This energy systems cost optimisation challenge will allow the student to develop transferable knowledge and skills in this most exciting and active field of heat decarbonisation research.

Programme of research:

Heat accounts for approximately 40% of UK energy demand and over a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting the UK Government’s commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will require decarbonising nearly all heat supplied in the UK, presenting both a significant challenge and a major opportunity.
Solar farms (fields of ground mounted solar panels with installed capacity greater than 5 MW) have played an important role in decarbonising the UK electricity grid, with almost 6 GW of installed capacity now operational on the electricity grid. Solar farms could also play a major role in decarbonising thermal processes; however, very little is known about how to design a solar ‘heat’ farm in the UK. For example:
• Should the collector field be made up of photovoltaic modules or solar thermal collectors?
• Should the heat be stored/transferred as hydrogen, water or electricity?
The project will investigate the research question: “For a given thermal process in the UK, what form of solar heat farm would result in the lowest levelized cost of heat?”, taking account of a wide range of factors, such as:
• the temperature of the thermal process;
• the performance of the solar modules / collectors;
• the available solar energy at the site;
• the annual profile of heat demand;
• access to heat/electrical grids;
• balance of heating and cooling;
• availability of land to site the solar farm;
• distance between the solar heat farm and the thermal process;
• and suitability of the ground conditions for installing a thermal store.

Application Process:

To download an application package, please visit: Participant Application Package:

For any queries on eligibility, please contact: KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: Tel: 01443 482578

For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact:
Dr Stephen Carr:

Further information at:

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time [[MbyRes programme]] and pay a stipend of circa £11k p.a. There is also around £3k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.

The position is available from 1st April 2020.

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