This is a PhD position within the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) between KU Leuven and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

At KU Leuven, two research groups are involved. First, in the division of Applied Mechanics and Energy Conversion (TME) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and embedded in EnergyVille, a young 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 our Energy Systems Integration and Modeling (ESIM) research group, PhD students and postdocs are working on modeling and on applications towards energy and climate policies. Second, in the ELECTA division of the Department of Electrical Engineering, prof. Leonardo Meeus is working on electricity markets and regulation.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy. We collaborate with over a thousand organizations worldwide whose scientists have access to many JRC facilities through various collaboration agreements. Our work has a direct impact on the lives of people by contributing with its research outcomes to a healthy and safe environment, secure energy supplies, sustainable mobility and consumer health and safety. The PhD candidate will join the team of the Electricity Systems, Distribution and Markets Unit, based in Ispra (Italy).
The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement. In this context, our energy system is undergoing drastic changes. We face rapidly increasing shares of intermittent renewable energy sources (RES) like wind and solar photovoltaics. These resources are very often connected to the distribution grid, that is, at medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) levels. Fundamental innovations are needed to guarantee their efficient integration into the electric system in order to ensure security of supply and system stability. The participation of LV and MV flexibility, via e.g., consumers engagement through a.o. electric vehicles and demand response mechanisms, can in this regard become an important provider of long-and short-term system services.

We have a fully funded PhD position available, within the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between KU Leuven and the JRC. The focus of this PhD is on flexibility at LV and MV distribution level, and appropriate incentives and market schemes to unlock this potential. A connection is sought between flexibility mechanisms/markets on the one hand, and the technical needs of the system on the other. For the latter, distribution grid models and representative networks are to be deployed, to also assess the level of technical detail needed to allow for relevant economic analysis. Focus can further be on the analysis of prosumers, Energy Communities and other forms of regulatory experimentation developments in Europe, along with market arrangements for their participation into the wholesale markets, local flexibility markets, and development of local energy markets (e.g. local P2P and transactive energy schemes).

The PhD candidate can start from existing models/tools/data-sets and dedicated expertise available in the research groups, and will collaborate with other research group members (at both KU Leuven and JRC). The PhD candidate will be supervised by prof. Erik Delarue & prof. Leonardo Meeus (both KU Leuven), and Gianluca Fulli & Silvia Vitiello (both JRC). 


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/markets 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.

Candidates need to be willing to spend two years at KU Leuven (Belgium), and two years at the JRC in Ispra (Italy).

We offer:
  • A doctoral scholarships (fully funded) for four years (two years at KU Leuven, with a net monthly salary of about ~ €2,000; two years at JRC, with a net monthly salary of about ~ €2,700), and a PhD degree in Engineering if successful
  • International experience: Two years (first and fourth) are to be completed in Belgium at KU Leuven, two years (second and third) in Italy at the JRC in Ispra
  • Experience both in academia and the JRC (the European Commission's science and knowledge service)
  • 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.)
  • This research is also connected to EnergyVille, a research collaboration on sustainable energy between KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt

A targeted start date is to be agreed upon.