Research Fellow in Geosolutions: Geothermal Energy Solutions

Are you an ambitious researcher with a broad background in geology or geophysics? Do you want to be part of a cutting-edge geoscience research programme? Do you want to make a difference by delivering research to underpin robust, sustainable and just climate and energy solutions? Do you want to develop your skills in trans-disciplinary research, equipping yourself with the expertise needed for linking geoscience knowledge and sustainable development?

The University of Leeds has world-leading expertise in subsurface characterisation, resource exploration and geoengineering through its long-established oil and gas, fundamental tectonic, and geophysical and geological research and teaching programmes. In addition, the Faculties of both Engineering and Physical Science, and Environment, have an outstanding track record in shallow geothermal energy deployment via heat pumps and district heating networks, from a technical, social and policy perspective.

In response to the University’s bold climate crisis policy announcement, we aim to harness this expertise to focus on the challenges relating directly to decarbonising the energy supply. This post is focussed on assessment and implementation of geothermal energy related solutions for the University of Leeds and the wider Leeds City area. We have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills to be applied to these areas as we work together with our Sustainability Research Institute and the Priestley International Centre for Climate, towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions future for our campus and for Leeds City. 

The School of Earth and Environment and the School of Civil Engineering has secured University funding to run an integrated series of 3 projects on ‘Geosolutions' linking Geoscience, Social Science, Sustainability and data analytics expertise with paired Grade 6 and Grade 7 research support. These projects will sit firmly within the University’s Geosolutions Centre, and will form part of a larger enterprise that brings together world-leading expertise from across the university to re-orient research towards innovative and sustainable Geosolutions.

These innovative transdisciplinary projects are aimed to address a significant gap in understanding of potential geoenergy opportunities, social acceptance, barriers and technologies for a just energy transition in line with Net Zero Carbon ambitions. These projects will set a novel standard of how to approach sustainable geosolutions, including through delivery of a University of Leeds based “Living Lab” as a proof-of-concept that the subsurface can be used efficiently for thermal storage and extraction. Our approach will evaluate and overcome the technical challenges and opportunities of geothermal energy and experiences, feeding directly into the partner project on the social/governance/business challenges associated with such solutions. Projects will be co-supervised by an academic lead from the geosciences, engineering and environmental social sciences. 

You will have completed a PhD or be close to completion i.e. the initial thesis needs to have been handed in at the point of application in geoscience or a closely allied discipline. You will be eager to work in a team of geoscientists, engineers, and social scientists to enhance the portfolio of the University of Leeds in contributing to Sustainable Geoscience based solutions in the Energy Transition. You will have the ability to conduct independent research and have excellent communication, planning and team working skills. 

Towards the second half of the project links with a data analytics focussed research project will become important.

This position focusses on identifying and quantifying the potential for geothermal energy use and storage at the University of Leeds campus and in the wider Leeds City area. This position is supported by a 1 year Research assistant. You will work closely with the Research Fellow in Geosolutions: Social science, governance and business models for local and regional geothermal energy use.

Key geoscience questions to addressed within the project include:

  • How would a geothermal system beneath the University of Leeds campus produce and recharge its energy and fluids?
  • What potential would this system have for sustainable energy storage and extraction?
  • How would this site act as an exemplar (pilot program) for geothermal heat and storage across the wider city of Leeds?

Results from this project will flow directly into the two associated research projects: 

  1. Social science questions with focus on geothermal energy (post of Research Fellow in Sustainable Geosolutions: governance, public perception and business models for local and regional geothermal energy use);
  2. Data analytics to maximise the use of the subsurface for geosolutions with minimum additional costs (part of a future Research Fellow in Sustainable Geosolutions: Using Data Analytics for Cost-efficient Use of the Subsurface for the Energy Transition).

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact:

Dr Emma Bramham, Lecturer in Applied Geophysics and Structural Geology
Tel: +44(0)113 343 5595

Dr Fleur Loveridge, Associate Professor of Geostructures
Tel: +44(0)113 343 2248

Dr Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou, Lecturer in Tunnelling and Rock Engineering
Tel: +44(0)113 343 1449

Professor Sandra Piazolo, Professor in Structural Geology and Tectonics; Academic Lead Geosolutions@Leeds
Tel: +44 (0)113 343 0010

posted: 28 September 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.