Fully Funded PhD studentship on hystoric hydro power generation

'The potential for the refurbishment of historic hydro power generation for the benefit of local communities in the Highlands & Islands region' Fully funded, full time, PhD position starting in the 2017/18 academic year.

Project Description

No definitive study has been made of historic hydro in the Highlands and Islands though the potential for power generation is mentioned in several government commissioned reports. A recent scoping study by Ecotechnic, funded by Community and the Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), revealed over 550 historic sites in four counties of East Scotland alone.

The initial work of this project will be a survey of the water ways across the Highlands & Islands to collate evidence of historic hydro sites such as water mills, weirs and lades. This will be carried out using web-based tools available through for example, Scottish National Heritage, Scottish and Southern Energy, SEPA, along with the accessing of physical records on historic hydro sites from the archives of national, regional and local authority records. Summary reports of sites will be available to give information on the viability for development by land owners, councils and local communities.

With this information, a fuller picture of the original positioning if the sites, their purpose and impact on the local community and future energy generation potential will be developed.

Selected sites will be identified with potential for development for energy generation, restoration, community benefit and tourism. The work will involve the estimation of power output potential of these selected sites and the appraisal of assessment methods and criteria used to calculate power generation. The work will also employ community engagement methods to investigate the benefits and impacts of potential restoration approaches.

Where local communities are involved the increase in cheaper power should help new and existing businesses. There is potential for some sites to become tourist attractions, as a result of the restoration and promotion of heritage e.g. mill wheels, increasing footfall in the community and assisting economic growth and further employment opportunities in this sector. The project findings will contribute to the overall sustainable development of rural communities.

The student will be expected to develop skills in GIS and an understanding of hydro power technology and an ability to assess the feasibility of hydro schemes (i.e. energy output, costs, constraints including natural heritage impacts). This will include the on-site appraisal of selected sites that show the potential for future development The student will also develop skills in participatory approaches for community engagement.

This interdisciplinary project will bring together expertise from Perth College UHI in energy-businesses partnerships (Ecotechnic), heritage and community engagement (Centre for Mountain Studies) and engineering/energy at North Highland College UHI.

Applicants must possess a minimum of an Honours degree at 2:1 and/or a Master’s Degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant subject.

The project will be supervised by Dr Robert Boyd (Perth College UHI); Dr Andrew Rollinson (North Highland College UHI); Dr Jayne Glass and Professor Martin Price (Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College UHI).

Closing date for applications: 12 noon 8th May 2017.

For full information about the project and to apply visit the FindAPhD website.