We are seeking a PhD candidate that researches the synergies between energy communities (EC) and electric mobility from a legal perspective, in particular with a focus on EU and Dutch law. The successful development and functioning of flexible ECs (as envisaged by this project) also depends on the legal framework and the regulation of various actors such as ECs, consumers, distribution system operators (DSO), producers, and suppliers. While the topic of EC quickly gained popularity in the past years and they are now also recognized by the EU legal framework of the energy sector, many legal questions concerning their role for the energy transition remain. Combining the concept of EC with electric mobility seems promising, however, certainly this will also require researching new legal questions. 

Some of the main questions that need to be addressed by the PhD candidate include the following: (i) What is an EC, i.e., which legal criteria qualify an initiative to become an EC, including the legal form, the activities, the purpose, and the scope? (ii) Whether and under which conditions can energy be traded and transported within ECs and what is the role of DSOs in this context? How to regulate the transport and supply of electricity via EVs and the use of EVs as a tool to store electricity and avoid grid congestion? (iii) How can ECs contribute to ‘community benefits’ and ‘social inclusion’ as established by the EU directives and what is the impact of the different means of electricity transportation? In addition to carrying out the research to answer those questions, it is also of utmost importance that the PhD candidate actively engages in the interdisciplinary dialogue of this project. The findings of the other (PhD) researchers involved in this project are relevant for the legal research and, vice versa, the PhD candidate will need to explain intermediate results to the other researchers on a continuous basis.

Project description
Title: Flexible Energy Communities: Coupling e-mobility and energy communities (FlexECs)

FlexEC is an interdisciplinary project funded by Dutch Research Council (NWO) and aims to investigate the opportunities and challenges for forming mobile energy communities (EC). In a more decentralized energy system ECs are pivotal to facilitate local shared energy production, consumption, selling and storing. However, the common assumption that ECs are bound to people living at relatively close proximity might limit their potential role and success. The core idea of this research project is to harness the social network structures of existing communities so that like-minded citizens living further apart could participate in ECs, too. FlexECs addresses this challenge by researching the synergies between ECs and electric mobility, essentially “mobile ECs”. Electrical vehicle (EV) batteries enable the transfer of energy from one location to another without being constrained by the fixed energy grid, expanding the scope of ECs. This could create more flexibility in the future design of ECs and accelerate the energy transition. Building from expertise across multiple disciplines, stakeholders, and existing ECs, this project will (1) co-create planning and evaluation tools for mobile ECs, taking into account heterogeneity in social, technical, legal, economic and spatial factors, and (2) introduce innovations via feasibility studies for implementation of mobile ECs in real-world projects involving researchers, as well as public and private stakeholders.
FlexECs will include six PhD candidates from different universities with expertise in spatial analysis and mobility (Wageningen University), Energy Law (University of Groningen), Urban Economics (Wageningen University), Electronic Engineering (Delft University of Technology), and Behavioural and Social Sciences (University of Groningen). The project will include two postdoc positions to coordinate interdisciplinary studies by PhDs, Assistant Professors and Professors. The researchers will work in close collaboration with nine public and private partners in the FlexECs consortium: Arcadis, Generation.Energy, Esri Nederland, Heliox, Municipality of Wageningen, Municipality of Groningen, Trip Advocaten & Notarissen, ING Bank, and Aeres University of Applied Sciences.


We expect the candidate to have:

• completed or be close to completing a Master’s degree in law
• preferably knowledge on EU energy law, electric vehicles, mobility, and infrastructure
• eagerness to publish international articles and write a dissertation
• enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary research team
• demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, monitoring, planning and organizing
• good social and communication skills
• excellent command of English and academic writing skills
• the ability to understand Dutch and Dutch law.


The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Law (https://www.rug.nl/rechten/) is building on a longstanding tradition of four centuries. Its mission is to be an ambitious top-ranking faculty of law with both high-quality education and research, with a strong international orientation, firmly rooted in the North of The Netherlands.

The faculty creates and shares knowledge through outstanding education and research, benefitting society. With more than 4000 students and 350 staff the faculty is heavily involved in educating students, both Dutch and international. The faculty is a modern, broad and international institution, educating students to become forward-looking, articulate and independent lawyers.

All PhD students participate in the Groningen Graduate School of Law (GGSL – https://www.rug.nl/research/gradschool-law/). The GGSL organizes the education of research master students and PhD students in the Faculty of Law. The inspiring and stimulating research environment is evidenced by the last external research audit in 2017 that judged research of the faculty of outstanding quality and praised the GGSL for the way in which PhD students are supported and supervised from the start till the very end of the PhD.

Conditions of employment

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE) for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of eighteen months with the option of renewal for another thirty months; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law.

Envisaged starting date: 1 November 2022


The application should include the following:

• a cover letter explaining your motivation for the position
• CV
• the names and contact details of two referees and an indication of whether we can contact them at this stage
• Overview of grades
• and preferably writing samples (e.g. master thesis)

Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.

You can submit your application until 21 August 11:59pm / before 22 August 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below on the advertisement on the university website).

The interviews for the position are scheduled for the week of 29 August 2022.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: https://www.rug.nl/(…)rsity-and-inclusion/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): https://www.nvp-hrnetwerk.nl/sollicitatiecode/ and European Commission’s European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/charter/code
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For information you can contact:

  • Dr Lea Diestelmeier, Assistant Professor Energy Law, Groningen Centre of Energy Law & Sustainability, l.diestelmeier@rug.nl

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.


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