PhD position in techno-economic assessment and cost optimization for underground seasonal thermal storage (1.0 FTE)

Uren per week: 
36 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Geowetenschappen
GEO / Dept SD
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


The EU aims to have a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) economy by 2050, with a 55% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. Presently, heating and cooling represent around 50% of the final energy demand in Europe and are mainly supplied by fossil fuel-derived energy. A challenge for decarbonizing heat systems is the size of the seasonal mismatch between demand for heat and heat generation from sustainable sources. Optimizing sustainable heat requires storing large amounts of heat to account for seasonal supply and demand fluctuations. Various technologies have been proposed for large-scale heat storage in geothermal reservoirs, and low-temperature storage is routinely applied. 

The EU project PUSH-IT focuses on extending storage temperature ranges to high temperatures. It is to showcase the full-scale heat storage applications (up to 90°C) of 3 different technologies (mine, borehole, and aquifer thermal energy storage) in geothermal reservoirs. It will develop, deploy and test heat storage for various configurations of heat sources, geological conditions, distribution systems, and market and legal conditions across Europe. 

Within this project, the research team at Utrecht University (UU) will closely work with the team at Delft University of Technology (TUD). A generic and open-source tool will be developed first to simulate the techno-economic performance of storage (subsurface, TUD) and local heating systems (surface, UU). The tool should capture the dynamics of heat supply and demand, operational storage performance, techno-economic parameters, and uncertainties. The developed open-source tool will then be tested and validated with the project cases. The PhD position will focus on the tool development and optimization of levelized cost of heat and carbon emission reduction costs.

The position is embedded in the Energy & Resources section at Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University (under the supervision of Dr Liu and Prof Kramer). He/she will also work closely with the scholars at TU-Delft and other project partners.


To be successful in the application, the Ph.D. candidate should:

  • hold a master's degree in Energy Science, Environmental Science, and Engineering or a relevant natural science subject area
    with excellent results;
  • be highly motivated, committed, creative, and with excellent communication skills;
  • have experience and knowledge in modeling and optimization, preferably with Python;
  • have experience and knowledge of techno-economic assessment of energy projects; 
  • be able to work in an interdisciplinary team and interested in collaborating with industrial partners;
  • be motivated to develop your teaching skills and coach students;
  • have excellent English proficiency.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. 

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute is part of the Faculty of Geosciences. At the Copernicus Institute, our goal is to have a positive impact on the transition towards a sustainable future. The Copernicus Institute has had an excellent research evaluation in 2021 and the institute takes pride in maintaining its leading position in national and international sustainability research, and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes. 

Aanvullende informatie

For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Wen Liu (Assistant professor), via


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the 'apply' button.

Uiterlijk reageren op 31 oktober 2022.