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Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Distributed Ledger Technologies and Guarantees of Origin

22 March 2018

The UCL Energy Institute is pleased to offer a fully-funded PhD Studentship in Distributed Ledger Technologies and Guarantees of Origin.

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Details

  • Title: PhD Studentship in Distributed Ledger Technologies and Guarantees of Origin
  • Supervisors: Dr Anthony Velazquez Abad, Researcher in Energy, UCL EI; and Prof. David Shipworth, Professor in Energy & the Built Environment, UCL EI
  • Stipend: £16,777 per year, home/EU tuition fees and a consumable allowance of £1,200. You will also be able to apply for additional funding to UCL schemes to cover extra costs of training and travel. 
  • Start Date: September/October 2018
  • Funding Duration: 4 years
  • Eligibility please check: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/

The UCL Energy Institute invites applications for a fully funded 4-year PhD studentship covering UK/EU fees plus stipend. It will focus on the assessment of distributed ledger technologies applied to the trade of guarantees of origin for renewables, the development of models to maximise energy affordability and minimise energy and GHG emissions, as well as evaluating and suggesting regulatory policies to overcome potential challenges.

Background

Guarantees of origin (GO) are documents used to demonstrate the renewable origin of renewable energy. Some of these GO are mandatory for energy mix disclosure, while others are voluntary and used for commercialising green tariffs. EU state members delegate the management of GO to third parties. This approach can be expensive due to the transactional fees charged to the participants in this markets. However, new technologies such enabling smart contracts under distributed ledger technologies (‘ blockchains’) could enhance or minimise the role of GO issuing bodies, impacting on the total costs of the system. Nevertheless, the validation of transactions on some technological platforms may require energy intensive hardware and the payment of rewards (tokens). The use of innovative technologies such as blockchains can have a positive impact on the market of GO; however, their potential and impact is still unknown. While there is a market for renewable electricity GO, the one for biomethane is still in its infancy and it does not exist yet for renewable heating and power and green hydrogen.

Aim

This research will determine the role that distributed ledger technologies can play in the markets of guarantees of origin for renewable energy. The proposed PhD topic will compare the capital and operational costs of different blockchains system architectures and between these and the current market approach, as well as, their greenhouse emissions. The operational challenges, including issues of trust among the participants in GO schemes, as well as, the willingness to accept potentially slower transactional times will be investigated. Policy recommendations will be put forward to promote or disincentive the use of blockchains for the trade of renewable electricity, biomethane and green hydrogen GO. A model will be developed to optimise the trade of GO for different energy carriers quantifying the multiple impacts on conventional and peer-to-peer energy grids, including the minimisation of UK and EU energy consumption and GHG emissions generated from GO markets, evaluation of impacts on energy affordability and identification of trading winners and losers.

In your PhD you will be expected to master a wide range of methodologies including techno-economic, environmental and policy analyses, game theory, and big data analysis to tackle the operations research challenges in these energy systems models. This research is supported by several organisations operating in the market of biomethane and green hydrogen GO, and you will need to liaise with these and other relevant stakeholders. At the end of your PhD you will become an expert on distributed ledger technologies and energy models applied to the trade of renewable electricity, biomethane and green hydrogen GO.

Person specification

The project is well suited to a quantitative individual with interest in renewable energy and strong operational research, data handling and computing skills. Students should have a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject or a closely related discipline, awarded with first-class or upper second-class (2:1) honours, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institute. For those applicants with a first or 2:1, possession of a master's degree in engineering, computer science, operations research, energy policy and the environment or a related discipline is highly desirable.

  • An MSc in Economics, Policy of Energy and the Environment, data science or other relevant computer science or engineering discipline.
  • Enthusiastic and passionate about renewable energy, energy policy, energy markets and Internet of Things.
  • Excellent analytical skills and interest in data analysis, modelling and programming.
  • Knowledge of programming languages and statistical software (such as Python, C++, MATLAB, SPSS, Stata)
  • Ability to use own initiative, prioritise workload, and be a fair team player
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written)
  • A high level of attention to detail in working methods
  • Candidates without a master's degree may be admitted in exceptional cases where suitable research or relevant professional experience can be demonstrated.

Application procedure

Stage 1 - Pre-application documents - (1) CV, (2) academic transcripts, and (3) 1-page personal statement outlining motivation, interest and eligibility for the post - should be emailed directly to Teresa Dawkins at bseer-phd-admin@ucl.ac.uk

Stage 2 - Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. 

Any offer made will be subject to references and proof of meeting the UCL English language requirements.

Informal enquiries on the content of the research topic should be emailed to Dr Anthony Velazquez Abad, A.Velazquez@ucl.ac.uk.

Deadline for application: 20th May 2018

Interviews week starting: 4th June 2018