Modelling and Optimising on-farm Renewable Energy Generation and Consumption using Artificial Intelligence

Apply and key information  

This project is funded by:

    • AgriSearch Doctoral Research Programme


The 4-year fully-funded PhD scholarship aims to explore a novel AI-based tool as a guide to

(1) assessing the long-term effectiveness of a dairy farm’s renewable energy utilisation via the kWh/Litre cost-metric, and

(2) providing real-time decisions to maximise the use of generated renewable energy on the farm via live consumption or non-battery/battery storage.

The proposed PhD project, in collaboration with Dale Farm Ltd, ultimately aims to use Artificial Intelligence to lower the impact on the environment by maximising the use of renewable generation and offset the use of the grid supply, therefore minimising the kWh per litre of milk cost. The research will address the cost-effective optimisation of the balance between the scaling of renewable resources (wind, solar, aerobic digestion), the sizing of storage capacity, and the timing of when generated energy can be consumed/stored on the farm using Artificial Intelligence.

The PhD is funded via the AgriSearch Doctoral Research Programme and provides a generous travel budget for research visits to leading institutes across the world in AgriTech and on-farm Renewable energy generation.  The PhD candidate will be based in the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems on the Derry~Londonderry campus of Ulster University.

This is a 4-year fully funded PhD scholarship and is only open to UK/Northern Ireland/RoI applicants.

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Research proposal of 1500 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project
  • A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%
  • For VCRS Awards, Masters at 75%
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Experience of presentation of research findings

Equal Opportunities

The University is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applicants from all sections of the community, particularly from those with disabilities.

Appointment will be made on merit.

Funding and eligibility

This project is funded by:

  • AgriSearch Doctoral Research Programme

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home and EU (Ireland) rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 19,237 per annum for four years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). There is a generous additional budget of over £15,000 to cover research visits and travel across the 4-year PhD research programme.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 1 July 2024

Interview Date
July 2024

Preferred student start date
16 September 2024


Apply Online  

Contact supervisor

Professor Jim Harkin

Other supervisors