Vulnerability of Coastal Energy Infrastructure to Climate and Environmental Change


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.

Project Description

Coastal energy infrastructure is vulnerable to flooding and erosion, particularly those sites that are located behind dynamic coarse clastic (sand and gravel) barrier beaches.  This includes not only coastal power stations (e.g. Sizewell, Dungeness) but also energy distribution installations bringing marine renewable wind energy into the power grid.  Whilst the resilience of these sites can be maintained over the short term through local intervention, it is critical to understand how such locations will respond over the long term (decades to centuries) and thus to provide valuable lifetime assessments.

This project will investigate the offshore record of past coastal response, using analogues from landscapes and landforms that have been drowned by sea-level rise.  The aim is to explore how the rate of sea-level rise, sediment supply and coastal geomorphology condition the response of coarse clastic barriers, thus determining their behaviour in terms of barrier rollover or overstepping.  Findings will then provide critical information for designing climate-resilient net zero maritime energy infrastructure in back-barrier locations according to their geography, geomorphology and hydrodynamic environment.

Offshore bathymetric and seismic profile data will be used to assess the geomorphology, thickness, extent and geometry of drowned coastal landforms and underlying late Pleistocene and early Holocene fluvial channel infills.  Sediments cores obtained with the seismic data will be sampled to determine sedimentological aspects and the palaeoenvironments of deposition, together with sediment budget and hydrodynamics for the time of formation and landform drowning.  OSL dating will be used to investigate rates of barrier migration and to pinpoint the prevailing rate of sea-level rise at the time of barrier reworking and/or overstepping.  A typology for assessing barrier system response will be designed according to: (i) geography, (ii) sediment budget and (iii) hydroynamics (including sea-level rise and wave climate.

PGR student will gain skills relevant to the topics connected to the environmental impact assessment of offshore activities including seabed shallow geology and bathymetry, palaeo-landscapes, maritime archaeology and marine habitats.


Industrial partner: Tarmac Marine Ltd.



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 Environmental Sciences 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 to 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 , Andy Plater  [, those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the CDT Manager Matt Fulton [].

Tel. No. for Enquiries:  0151 794 2843


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.