UCL Energy Institute


Fully funded PhD studentship in energy demand flexibility identification and solutions

20 December 2022

Applications are now open for a proposed studentship 'Energy demand flexibility identification and solutions', as part of 60 studentships to be awarded by the UCL EPSRC DTP.

Photo of someone charging and electric car

About the project

Project title: Energy demand flexibility identification and solutions
Project supervisors: Professor David ShipworthProfessor Tadj OreszczynDr Ellen Webborn
Project ID: 2228bd1107 (You will need this ID for your application)

To meet our Net Zero targets, we are rapidly increasing intermittent wind and solar generation and electrifying demand from heat and transport. This requires transformative, system-wide action on flexibility. Initiatives such as Ofgem’s Full Chain Flexibility, BEIS’ Flexibility Innovation Programme, and National Grid’s flexibility trial show the importance and timeliness of research in this area. Electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps (HPs) significantly increase household electricity demand, but their impact on demand and system flexibility requirements has not been studied in a large sample of homes. 

This project will use Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) data from 12k homes (some known to have HPs and EVs), to develop methods to a) identify homes with these technologies, b) assess their impact on demand, and c) identify lifestyle and dwelling factors linked with households that contribute most to local network constraints. The project will also explore potential solutions to deliver flexibility, such as time of use tariffs and demand scheduling devices through household participation in a trial. Natural partners would be network operators such as National Grid or DNOs/DSOs, for whom managing network constraints and anticipating the impact of large-scale adoption of HPs and EVs.

The project will leverage the enormous potential of SERL’s historic data, in addition to that collected during the project, to study energy demand from EVs and HPs on a previously unprecedented scale. This high-impact, novel research will inform policy, academia, and industry, bringing a scale and range of insights into HP and EV demand not currently represented in BSEER, but complementing existing projects. It will train a student in smart meter data analytics and machine learning; current hot topics for which there is a shortage of highly qualified graduates. We are looking for a student with a strong quantitative background, coding skills, and ideally knowledge/experience of power systems/energy demand.

About the Supervisory Team

Professor David Shipworth researches energy flexibility in distributed energy systems within built environments. He has supervised 18 PhD students, 12 as first. David is an investigator on ~£20M in grants on demand management including leading the synthesis workstream in the UK’s largest research programme on Smart Local Energy Systems.

Professor Tadj Oreszczyn is a building physicist who has supervised 20 PhD students, 15 as first supervisor. Tadj is PI on the EDOL and SERL EPSRC projects which generate the data core to this PhD. The EDOL contract starts January 2023 for 5 years, so EDOL staff can provide support throughout the PhD. 

Dr Ellen Webborn is a Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Energy Institute working across multiple projects. Her current focus is on the design and analysis of smart meter trials.

Key information

Funder: UCL ESPRC DTP studentship
Value: Fees, Stipend (at least £20,668 per year), Research Training Support Grant
Duration: Up to 4 years (thesis to be submitted within funded period)
Eligible Fee Status: Home, International (EPSRC caps the total number of funded International fee status students across UCL for this award at 30%)
Study Mode: Full or Part time (at least 50% FTE) [Note: Part time is not available to International students]
Primary Selection Criteria: Academic merit
Project ID: 2228bd1107 (You will need this ID for your application)
Application Deadline: 12:00 on 26 January 2023

How to apply

This PhD Studentship topic is one of 19 proposed by The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources to a competition for approximately 60 studentships that will be awarded across UCL as part of the UCL EPSRC DTP. Prospective students are welcome to apply for up to 5 potential studentships - see the full list of projects from our department and the UCL project database for a comprehensive list across the university. The 60 successful proposals will be chosen following applicant interviews.

Before applying, all applicants must read the full eligibility criteria and application guidance on the UCL EPSRC DTP website. There is a 3-part application process, with a deadline of the 26 January 2023 to complete the third part of the application.