At the division of Applied Mechanics and Energy Conversion (TME) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KU Leuven, and embedded in EnergyVille, a dynamic research group led by prof. Erik Delarue is working on energy systems modeling (unit commitment, system planning, equilibrium modeling, renewables integration, energy policy and energy market design). In this Energy Systems Integration and Modeling (ESIM) research group, PhD students and post-docs are working on modeling and on applications towards energy and climate policies.
Our energy system is undergoing drastic changes in an aim towards decarbonization. On the generation side, we face rapidly increasing shares of intermittent renewable energy sources (RES) like wind and solar photovoltaics. Currently, carbon capture, utilization and storage, and the generation and use of synthetic fuels (such as H2 or other molecules) are also prominently on the research agenda. Especially regarding the decarbonization of industry, these might play a critical role. 
Long-term energy system optimization models are often used to gain insight in the corresponding challenges (technical, economic, policy) and explore possible pathways. Based on a number of assumptions, such models determine a least cost pathway of the energy system under imposed boundary conditions. Focus historically has been mostly on the representation of the electricity generation sector, with only limited/simplified representation of industry. 
We currently have a PhD position available in this domain, with focus on industrial decarbonization and the representation of infrastructure (electricity grids and molecules transport) in energy system optimization models. Through this research, we aim to better represent industry, with various decarbonization options and possible ‘system integration’ synergies. Towards this end, various energy carriers need to be accounted for (electricity, heat, natural gas, synthetic molecules, CO2), together with the required network infrastructure these require. The use of such models needs to be further scrutinized, given prevailing/future markets and policies (such as EU ETS). Towards this end single optimization models might be complemented with other approaches (e.g., data-analysis/data-driven approaches, equilibrium modeling, GIS tools). 
This position will be funded by a VITO-scholarship. After selection of a suitable candidate, he/she will have to prepare a research plan (in collaboration with ESIM and VITO colleagues), and defend this for a VITO-jury.
The PhD candidate can start from existing energy systems models and dedicated expertise available in the research group, and will collaborate with other research group members.


We are looking for highly motivated, enthusiastic and communicative researchers with a Master of Science degree in Engineering or a related field, from a reputable institute. You should have obtained excellent study results.
Candidates should have a strong interest in energy, and especially in energy system operation and planning, as well as energy policy and modeling. Experience with Matlab/Python/GAMS/Julia is a plus. Candidates with a background in a.o. optimization, computer science, operations research are also encouraged to apply. Applicants should also have good English communication skills.
KU Leuven is among the top European universities. It is a key player in the field of energy research, also through the collaboration within EnergyVille.
We offer:
  • A doctoral scholarship (fully funded, to be acquired via VITO scholarship) for four years (net monthly salary of about ~ €2,200), and a PhD degree in Engineering if successful
  • A highly specialized doctoral training, making the candidate expert in energy systems modeling
  • Multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.)
  • The opportunity to participate in research collaborations and international conferences
  • Multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.)
A targeted start date is to be agreed upon. This research is to be performed within the framework of EnergyVille, a research collaboration on sustainable energy between KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt.