Resilient design of floating wind turbines exposed to climate change effects based on sustainable structural health monitoring and early warning systems


The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Maritime Energy solutions (N0MES) has a 4-year funded PhD place available for an exceptional researcher. With the support of the University of Liverpool (UoL), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and 33 maritime energy sector partners, N0MES PGRs will pursue new, engineering-centred, interdisciplinary research to address four vital net zero challenges currently facing the North West, the UK and beyond:

a) Energy generation using maritime-based renewable energy (e.g. offshore wind, tidal, wave, floating solar, hydrogen, CCS);

b) Distributing energy from offshore to onshore, including port- and hinterland-side impacts and opportunities;

c) Addressing the short- and long-term environmental impacts of offshore and maritime

environment renewable energy generation, distribution and storage; and

d) Decommissioning and lifetime extension of existing energy and facilities.


The International Association of Ports & Harbors (IAPH) and World Bank (WB) 2022 Action Plan identified three key actions for maritime sectors, i.e. digitalization, decarbonization and resilience. The global IAPH-WB “CloseGaps” exercise, emphasised that renewables require continued innovation to achieve performances set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Towards this aim, wind energy technology is proven and still developing. Scaling of wind turbine sizes has led the way to ensuring efficiencies and in reducing capital costs. New structural engineering materials and sustainable technologies are becoming widely used for innovative systems of floating wind turbines (FWTs).

FWTs are exposed to harsh environments, experiencing varying loads from wind and cyclic fatigue actions due to self-weight, as well as extreme temperature and humidity changes, erosion and corrosion. Consequently, FWTs, especially their blades, are prone to high failure rates, which may lead to significant downtime and, in turn, incur economic losses. Structural health monitoring (SHM) can be an effective technique to prevent the onset of either common failure or extensive damage that impairs the functionality of turbine blades. Additionally, SHM systems can be utilised as an early warning (EW) to shut down a turbine or adapt its functionality under severe natural threats. The efficient use of an EW may also contribute to decarbonization through proactive maintenance and performance assessment of FWTs.

This project will build a digital twin of modern off-shore FWTs located in the UK. Data will be collected from a bespoke dense array of sensors installed on wind turbine components, particularly blades and towers. These sensors will contribute to response analysis through SHM, and will also be used to provide optimal locations for EW systems to protect the integrity and functionality of next-generation FWTs. A scaled model of the FWT will be tested through state-of-art facilities within the structural and hydraulic laboratories in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Liverpool.

The studentship will focus on work within a multidisciplinary environment, involving environmental sciences (for data collection) and civil engineering (for structural and water/environmental tests).

We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.

We believe everyone deserves an excellent education and encourage students from all backgrounds and personal circumstances to apply.

Applicant Eligibility

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master’s Degree or equivalent from a reputable University in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered.


Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form [How to apply for a PhD - University of Liverpool] applying for a PhD in Civil Engineering and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, two academic references and a supporting statement [maximum 300 words] detailing; what inspires you within this project, how your skill set matches the project, up to 3 examples showing your commitment so science, piece of science that excites you & anything else to support your application.


Candidates wishing to discuss the research project should contact the primary supervisor [Dr Luigi di Sarno -], those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the CDT Manager Matt Fulton [].


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc.

EPSRC Studentships are available to any prospective student wishing to apply including international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise of international students and they will not be charged the fee difference between UK and international rate.