Wind Turbines for Developing Countries

About the project or challenge area

Wind turbines are now a widely used technology in the developed world, offering costs of energy competitive with conventional fossil fuels. However, the current design and manufacturing methods require complex supply chains, large factories and expensive capital equipment to manufacture the components; well developed infrastructure for transporting the components to the final installation site; and regular maintenance from skilled workers to keep them operating for typical lifetimes of 20 to 25 years. Although wind turbines also offer great potential for providing low-cost renewable energy in developing countries, new design and manufacturing methods are needed so that they can be produced close to their installation site without requiring expensive material supply chains and manufacturing facilities. They must also be as robust as possible so that they can remain in use for long lifetimes without requiring replacement parts or maintenance from highly skilled personnel. This project will explore design concepts and manufacturing methods that can address these challenges, using case study countries in the developing world to provide realistic design constraints. It will also explore the financial schemes that might be necessary to help promote the widespread manufacture and deployment of turbines with maximum social and economic benefits. (Although this is intended to be an interdisciplinary project, spanning both engineering and the social sciences, the exact focus of the project can be tailored to suit the student's background.)

Why choose this opportunity?

The project will allow you to work with experts in Bristol's Composites research group (ACCIS) and gives scope to undertake detailed research on design concepts and manufacturing methods, whilst also accounting for the overarching economic, social and environmental constraints.

About you

This project would suit a candidate with strong interests in engineering design, wind energy and international development.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised challenge area, which means you should complete Section A + B of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Paul Harper, Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 95 45159 or email


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Ben WoodsLecturer in Aerosopace Structures in the Faculty of Engineering. You can email him at


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Colin Nolden, Vice Chancellor's Fellow in the Law School. You can email him at

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Low Carbon Energy theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to develop sustainable energy policy and technologies which are crucial to providing a safe, reliable and low-cost energy supply for a growing global population. We innovate in every part of the energy system, from generation and storage, to regulation and end-user demand Find out more about the Low Carbon Energy theme.

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