Innovating Interdisciplinary Airborne Wind Energy through Rigorous Wind Tunnel Testing and Collaborative Design

Research projects

  • Research area

    Push the Frontiers of Offshore Wind Technology

  • Institution

    Durham University

  • Research project

    Innovating Interdisciplinary Airborne Wind Energy through Rigorous Wind Tunnel Testing and Collaborative Design

  • Lead supervisor

    Professor Grant Ingram (Professor - Department of Engineering, Durham University, Durham University)

  • PhD Student

    Open to new applicants

  • Supervisory Team

    Dr Fatemeh Rekabi-Bana (Post Doctoral Research Associate - Department of Computer Science, Durham University, Durham University)
    Dr Farshad Arvin (Dr Farshad Arvin - Department of Computer Science, Durham University, Durham University)
    Dr Majid Bastankhah (Associate Professor, Department of Engineering, Durham University)

Project Description:

This project is open to applicants until 16 May 2024. The successful candidate will begin their study in September 2024.

This Research Project is part of the EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Energy Sustainability and Resilience’s Hybrid Offshore Wind Energy Solutions Cluster.

The pursuit of clean and sustainable energy solutions has led to the exploration of innovative methods for harnessing wind energy. One such innovation is the development of Airborne Wind Turbines (AWTs), a cutting-edge alternative to the conventional horizontal axis three-bladed turbines. AWTs offer the promise of tapping into the abundant wind resources available at higher altitudes, where winds are stronger and more consistent [1]. In particular, AWTs offer important benefits when used on offshore floating platforms. AWTs can be deployed on floating platforms, which offer mobility and scalability advantages. These systems can be easily moved to different locations to capture the best wind conditions and can be deployed in deeper waters, opening up new offshore areas for wind energy generation.

AWTs employ a diverse array of technologies and designs, ranging from tethered gliders and kite-based systems to rotary wing configurations. This diversity has given rise to a landscape where multiple AWT technologies are vying for prominence, with no clear consensus on which approach is superior. Traditionally, the wind energy sector has been dominated by the well-established horizontal axis three-bladed turbine design. However, the limitations of these conventional turbines, including land-use constraints, intermittency issues, and the associated visual and environmental impacts, have prompted the exploration of alternative solutions. AWTs have emerged as a disruptive force, offering the potential to overcome many of these limitations and provide a pathway to more efficient, compact, and versatile wind energy generation.

One remarkable aspect of AWTs is their versatility in design and configuration. Unlike the standardised form of conventional turbines, AWT technologies encompass a spectrum of concepts, each with its unique advantages and challenges. Some AWT designs utilise tethered gliders that capture wind energy through a controlled flight path, while others employ kite-based systems that exploit the dynamic motion of a flying kite. Rotary wing configurations, resembling the familiar helicopter design, are also being explored as potential AWT solutions [1]. These diverse technologies offer varying degrees of scalability, adaptability to different wind regimes, and potential for higher altitudes, where wind resources are more abundant.

Crucially, the multiplicity of AWT designs has sparked a dynamic and interdisciplinary research landscape, attracting the attention of researchers, engineers, and innovators from a wide array of fields. This pursuit of diverse AWT technologies has led to exciting advancements, ranging from novel materials and aerodynamic concepts to intricate control and optimisation strategies. However, as AWT technologies continue to evolve, there remains a critical gap in our understanding: the lack of a definitive consensus on which technology is superior. This research proposal seeks to address this gap by embracing the diversity within AWT technologies. Through a structured approach encompassing design, testing, and optimisation, we aim to shed light on the performance, stability, and interactions of various AWT technologies. By advancing our comprehension of these cutting-edge solutions, we strive to provide insights that will inform future AWT development, enabling us to harness wind energy more efficiently, sustainably, and effectively in a rapidly changing energy landscape.

Training & Skills

Student will have the opportunity to attend a wide range of post-graduate level modules, and will develop a wide range of skills including wind tunnel experiment training.

You will benefit from a taught programme, giving you a broad understanding of the breadth and depth of current and emerging offshore wind sector needs. This begins with an intensive six-month programme at the University of Hull for the new student intake, drawing on the expertise and facilities of all four academic partners. It is supplemented by Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is embedded throughout your 4-year research scholarship.

Further Queries

If you would like more information about this project, please let us know by emailing

Entry Requirements

If you have received or expect to achieve before starting your PhD programme a First-class Honours degree, or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters, or a Distinction at Masters level a degree (or the international equivalents) in engineering, we would like to hear from you.

If your first language is not English, or you require a 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. Please contact for further guidance or questions.


The CDT is funded by the EPSRC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, £19,237 per annum at 2024/25 rates (subject to progress).


Our funded Doctoral Scholarships are available to UK Students. In addition, we have a number of Scholarships that are open to International Students. Research council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. 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.

How to Apply

Please note, you may only apply for ONE project offered through the EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Energy Sustainability and Resilience.

Applications are open until 16 May 2024.

Applications to this project are made via the Durham University admissions system. If you have not applied to Durham University before, you will need to set up an account to enable you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents.

Follow this link to apply for CDT projects at Durham University:

For CDT projects based at Durham University you need to select “PhD Engineering” as your course and “H1A201” as your course code. Please make sure you select “October” intake – although note that the PhD will actually start in September, with the 6-month taught programme, based at the University of Hull.

With your application, you need to upload copies of the following supporting evidence:

  • Complete transcripts (and final degree certificate(s) where possible). If your qualification documents are not in English, you will need to supply copies of your original language documents as well as their official translation into English.
  • Your Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  • A completed Supplementary Application Form (upload when asked for your Personal Statement).

Guidance on completing your Supplementary Application Form:

The EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Energy Sustainability and Resilience is committed to generating a diverse and inclusive training programme. As part of our inclusive practices, the Centre adopts a process of assessing applicants’ experience, skills and attributes independently of personal details. To enable us to do this, we ask you, as the applicant, to complete the Supplementary Application Form, omitting the following personally identifying information from the form – name(s), ethnic group, nationality, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation. The form is then used by the Panel to assess and select applicants for interview. The form asks for details of your education, training and employment history as well as some specific questions about your motivations and research experience and interests. It is very important that you do not include the personally identifying information specified.

Completing the form

Applicants must:

  • Remove references to: Name(s), ethnic group, nationality, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation
  • Complete all sections of the form in font and size Calibri 11pt

Please download the Supplementary Application Form here.

Uploading the form

When you have completed the form, please save it as a pdf format and labelled as follows:

Last name_first name PhD application form

Upload the form as part of your application documents through the Durham University student application portal, when asked to add your Personal Statement. The form replaces the Personal Statement and so you do not need to complete the Personal Statement section.
Our support team will then process the form removing your name and allocating you a number prior to your application being assessed.


Interviews will be held during June and will be conducted by a panel of academics from Durham University.
For an informal discussion please contact

For an informal discussion, call +44 (0) 1482 463331
or contact