Professor Alasdair McDonald

Chair in Renewable Energy Technology and Head of Research Institute

Engineering Discipline: 

  • Mechanical Engineering

Research Institute: 

  • Energy Systems

Research Theme: 

  • Electrical Power Conversion
  • Wind Energy
  • Offshore Renewable Energy
Alasdair McDonald
Alasdair McDonald


Professor in the Institute for Energy Systems and Mechanical Engineering Discipline, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh. Models and designs powertrains and generators for offshore wind turbines.

PhD in "Structural analysis of low speed, high torque electrical generators for direct drive renewable energy converters" from Edinburgh (2004-2008). This started me looking at the integrated electrical-magnetic-mechanical modelling and design of large electrical machines for offshore renewable energy.

During my PhD, I started work on a double-sided air-cored permanent magnet machine concept called "C-Gen". Ultimately this lead to a formation and spin-out of a company called NGenTec, where as a founder I worked as Chief Engineer, helping to develop linear, radial-flux and axial-flux variants.

In 2012, I returned to academia, as a lecturer in Wind Turbine Technology in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineer at the University of Strathclyde. Based in the EPSRC CDT in Wind Energy Systems, over the following years I was promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Wind Turbine Technology. During those years I developed interests in wind turbine powertrain modelling, design, optimisation, reliability and condition monitoring, always asking what technology will give the lowest cost of energy for offshore renewables.

In 2021, I rejoined Edinburgh, where I work in Electrical Power Conversion group as applied to Wind Energy and Offshore Renewable Energy.

My career publications can be found here (please scroll down to the very bottom to see the ones that no one has read) and my EPSRC-funded projects are here (email me for the long list of those that didn't get funded).

Academic Qualifications: 

PhD, University of Edinburgh, 2008

MEng (Hons) in Integrated Electrical & Mechanical Engineering, University of Durham, 2004

Professional Qualifications and Memberships: 

Member of the Institution for Engineering Technology (IET), CEng


Research Interests: 

  • Integrated electrical-magnetic-mechanical design of direct drive electrical machines
  • Design and optimisation of powertrains for wind turbines
  • Lightweighting of electrical machines
  • Reliability of powertrains for wind energy
  • Condition monitoring and machine learning as applied to wind turbine powertrains


  • Design of permanent magnet electrical machines for wind energy and offshore renewable energy
  • Design for lightweight electrical machines

Further Information: