Effects of very large scale offshore wind deployment on physical processes in the North Sea

Research projects

  • Research area

    Environmental impact marine biology and aquaculture

  • Institution

    University of Hull

  • Research project

    Effects of very large scale offshore wind deployment on physical processes in the North Sea

  • Lead supervisor

    Dr Simon Waldman (Lecturer in Renewable Energy, Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull)

  • PhD Student

    Open to new applicants

  • Supervisory Team

    Dr Charlie Lloyd (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull)
    Dr Anne Baar (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull)
    Dr Robert M Dorrell (Research Fellow – Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Hull)

Project Description:

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Aura Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment; a partnership between the Universities of Durham, Hull, Newcastle and Sheffield. The successful applicant will undertake a PG-Dip training year and then continue their PhD research at University of Hull.

For more information visit www.auracdt.hull.ac.uk. Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email auracdt@hull.ac.uk and we will forward the query to the relevant supervisor. Please do not contact the project supervisors directly.


The impacts of offshore wind turbines on large-scale physical processes below the waterline, such as stratification and large-scale circulation, are poorly understood (Clark et al, 2014). The effect of an individual turbine is small, but with very large-scale deployment the cumulative effects may become worthy of attention. For example, theoretical analysis by Carpenter et al (2016) suggested that mixing caused by wind farms of 100 km in extent would have significant effects on seasonal stratification. In-progress developments in the North Sea will exceed this scale, and national ambitions are greater still.

Large-scale changes to these physical processes would have implications for biological and ecological processes, and hence be important to the consenting process. The current knowledge gap in this area therefore represents a project risk for the very large-scale deployment which is planned to 2030 and beyond.

This project will develop a regional-scale, numeric hydrodynamic model of the North Sea with a plausible offshore wind deployment scenario for 2050, and use it to examine the resulting changes in physical sub-surface processes (e.g. tides, large-scale circulation, mixing and stratification).

Insight will be gained into,

  • differences in cumulative oceanographic impacts between types of fixed and floating turbine base
  • how offshore wind deployment might be optimised to minimise the oceanographic environmental impacts of a given level of electricity generation

The work will achieve impact by providing the industry with evidence towards future Environmental Statements – either showing that the effects of very large-scale deployment will be minor, or that these effects are anticipated and can be predicted and managed.


Free Webinar

The University of Hull is running a webinar at 6pm on Tuesday 29 November to provide more information about the Aura CDT. The webinar will close with a Q&A giving you the opportunity to delve deeper into research opportunities, training provision and potential career paths. Book your place.


Training and Skills

The student will develop skills in: handling, interrogating and exploring large spatial data sets; building and operating regional-scale ocean models, including high performance computing; in data visualisation, and in presenting scientific results to varied audiences. Training will be provided in scripting and high-level programming techniques for pre- and post-processing data. Future career options obviously include academic research in this area, but also encompass a range of consultancies who use similar modelling tools for a wide range of purposes including renewable energy, aquaculture, environmental consultancy, pollution control, and so forth. Moving beyond those tools the doctoral graduate will have excellent skills in computing and data handling, equipping them to excel in many other fields.


Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Physical Oceanography, Physics, Physical Geography, Applied Mathematics or Computer Science, we would like to hear from you. The project would suit somebody with interest and enthusiasm for offshore wind and computational modelling with strong IT aptitude.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.



The Aura CDT is funded by the EPSRC and NERC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, circa £17,668 per annum at 2022/23 rates (subject to progress).


Research Council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. Our Aura CDT scholarships are available to Home (UK) Students. To be considered a Home student, and therefore eligible for a full award, a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the scholarship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). For full eligibility information, please refer to the EPSRC website. In addition, a number of Aura CDT Scholarships will be available to International Students across the projects offered by the partner institutions.


How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal; you must also download a supplementary application form from the Aura CDT website, complete and submit as part of the online application.

For more information about the Aura CDT including links and detailed instructions please visit our how to apply page.



Clark, S., Schroeder, F., Baschek, B., 2014. The influence of large offshore wind farms on the North Sea and Baltic Sea – a comprehensive literature review (No. HZG 2014-6). Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. https://www.hzg.de/imperia/md/content/hzg/zentrale_einrichtungen/bibliothek/berichte/uhzg_reports_2014/hzg_report_2014_6.pdf

Carpenter, J.R., Merckelbach, L., Callies, U., Clark, S., Gaslikova, L., Baschek, B., 2016. Potential Impacts of Offshore Wind Farms on North Sea Stratification. PLOS ONE 11, e0160830. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160830


Join our free webinar on 29 November
for information on our 2023 PhD Scholarships

For enquiries, contact auracdt@hull.ac.uk