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University of Bath URSA project: Dynamic response and resilient design of deep-water Offshore Wind Turbines considering soil-water-structure interaction

   Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


Energy savings and decarbonisation of the built environment are urgently needed to achieve “NetZero”. Wind energy is a sustainable renewable energy which is growing fast in the UK and globally. To take advantage of high wind speeds, offshore wind turbines (OWT) are now built and there are plans for these to be extended into deeper waters.

Although this is a very promising green energy technology, there are still some challenges to be overcome. New OWTs to be built in deeper waters require taller and more slender towers which are more sensitive to lateral loads from wind and violent waves. Moreover, alternative foundation techniques need to be explored which consider multi-directional load and large values of base shear and bending moment. In many cases the natural frequencies of vibration of these OWTs are close to the various forcing frequencies that are imposed on them and therefore detrimental resonance and dynamic amplification may be possible. Previous work by the group at Bath (Williams et al., 2022a, 2022b) has shown great potential in modelling these complicated offshore loads and environments, focussing in particular on dynamic soil-structure interaction. However, it has been acknowledged that hydrodynamic loads have significant effects on the dynamic response (Zang et al., 2010) and therefore more accurate hydrodynamic wave loads (Chen et al., 2018) need to be considered in the model.

This project aims to investigate the dynamic response of OWTs subjected to dynamic loads primarily from the wind and sea waves. Particular attention will be paid on the dynamic structural behaviour of the tower subjected to combined transient wind and wave loading. The project will involve analytical/numerical analysis with both in-house developed codes and commercial software. Therefore, the suitable candidate should have a strong interest in engineering mechanics, structural/geotechnical/hydraulic modelling and computational analysis. This is currently a very active research topic that is expected to lead to a series of publications in top journals and its outcomes can support the broader research area of offshore structures and marine renewable energy. The student will acquire valuable analytical/computational analysis skills and knowledge of an emerging field that are directly relevant to Industry and may have the chance to interact with practising engineers.

The position is located within the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering at the University of Bath. The department is highly ranked in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercises (92% as world leading) and it has been consistently ranked in the top 5 Civil Engineering departments in the UK. The University was ranked in the top seven in the UK, was awarded a TEF Gold for its high-quality teaching and was voted University of the Year in 2023.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered for funding.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Loizos Pelecanos - - and the supervisory team

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.

Keywords: Civil Engineering; Energy Technologies; Fluid Mechanics; Geotechnical Engineering; Marine Engineering; Offshore Engineering; Structural Engineering; Structural Mechanics

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.


• Williams, S.A., Pelecanos, L. and Darby, A.P., 2022. A Winkler model of monopile ratcheting under long-term dynamic cyclic loading. Ocean Engineering, 266, p.112625.
• Williams, S.A., Pelecanos, L. and Darby, A.P., 2022. A practical two-parameter model of pile–soil gapping for prediction of monopile offshore wind turbine dynamics. Géotechnique, pp.1-16.
• Zang, J., Taylor, P.H., Morgan, G., Stringer, R., Orszaghova, J., Grice, J. and Tello, M., 2010, May. Steep wave and breaking wave impact on offshore wind turbine foundations–ringing re-visited. In 25th International Workshop on Water Waves and Floating Bodies (pp. 9-12).
• Chen, L., Zang, J., Taylor, P. H., Sun, L., Morgan, G., Grice, J., Orszaghova, J., & Tello, M. (2018). An experimental decomposition of nonlinear forces on a surface-piercing column: Stokes-type expansions of the force harmonics. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 848, 42-77. https://doi.org/10.1017/jfm.2018.339

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