UCL Energy Institute


Energy Efficiency in the Zambian Copper Industry

29 November 2016


Principal Investigator - Neil Strachan
Duration of the project  - 48 Months
Sponsor - BHP-Billiton
Amount of the grant - £60,000

This PhD impact studentship builds links between the UCL Energy Institute and the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR). The studentship is sponsored by BHP-Billiton under the ISR.

Energy efficiency is quickly becoming a priority issue on many national and international agendas for a number of reasons that range from economical benefits, energy security, environmental protection to climate change mitigation. A number of technically and economically feasible measures for the reduction of energy use have been identified in the all sectors – residential, commercial, transport, agricultural and industrial.

Focusing on copper as an important and major non-ferrous metal in sub-Sahara Africa, there has been little economic-energy-environmental research done despite being energy and carbon intensive. In Zambia for instance, copper accounts for more than 70% of its foreign exchange. While at the same time, accounting for 55% and 37% of the total electricity and oil consumed in the country respectively. This sector offers an opportunity for the country to grow economically but also poses a serious challenge to realising this growth: huge investments have to be made in the energy system sustain growth from this sector.

Simulation of different policy instruments and institutional mechanisms scenarios will be carried out using an appropriate modelling/simulation approach such as Agent Based Modelling, in order to explicitly represent non-quantitative energy efficiency barriers, uncertainty, technology adoption, organisational limitations (such as capacity and bounded rationality) and market conditions realities in Africa. Traditional modelling tools such has LEAP or MARKAL do not explicitly capture and represent all the energy efficiency barriers.


A PhD in this key research topic.

This PhD research will increase the understanding of how firms (and investors) would respond to different scenarios and also provide modelling transparency. This research will add to understanding of the state of energy use in Africa’s Copper sector and above all, it will be an innovative approach of modelling and simulating energy efficiency barriers.