UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


PhD Studentship: Understanding the sources of value in emerging and future energy systems

12 April 2019

Fully-funded PhD Studentship: Understanding the sources of value in emerging and future energy systems - Sponsored by PassivSystems


Decarbonisation of energy supply is leading to significant changes in energy systems around the world. One important change is the increase in variable renewable generation which affects the availability and price of electricity at different times. Demand side flexibility services are needed including demand management and storage, in order to utilise this renewable energy. To ensure these services flourish, providers of demand-side flexibility must be rewarded in a way that recognises their value to the energy system as a whole.

To provide an effective energy system, it is important to understand how prices could change in the future and provide incentives for new services for customers. A key step is to distinguish clearly between market value and the value of new flexibility services to the system. Market value depends on current tariff and contractual structures, and may not fully reflect value to the system.  Value to the system is in principle dependent on technology costs (on the demand and supply side), changes in network infrastructure, and regulations and policies. This value may be obscured by existing contractual and regulatory arrangements, and therefore be unrealisable to consumers, innovators and other market actors. Value to the system is also path dependent, because infrastructures and policy frameworks are difficult to change quickly.

PhD project aims

The PhD will seek to:

  • Establish a range of possible scenarios for the electricity market and associated regulatory frameworks
  • Review strategic opportunities for demand side flexibility under each of the different scenarios
  • Review the way energy security is valued/priced.
  • Develop theory and computational tools for energy pricing under a flexible dynamic market.
  • Explore options for residential energy pricing structures to encourage maximum flexibility including the role of energy demand
  • Understand the impacts of novel energy pricing structures on consumers as a function of age and socio-economic status

Person specification

Applicants should have a Master’s degree in a relevant subject and a first class or upper second Bachelor’s degree. Excellent quantitative skills are essential. Programming experience is desirable. Applicants should demonstrate an interest and enthusiasm for the subject.


Prof Jim Watson, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources & Dr Aidan O’Sullivan, UCL Energy Institute

Industry Sponsor

PassivSystems provide a software platform for renewable asset management and for grid flexibility for domestic homes. They are at the forefront of research and early deployment of services offering grid flexibility while delivering increased comfort and convenience to the consumer.

Studentship details and eligibility

The studentship will cover UK course fees and an enhanced tax-free stipend of approx. £18,000 per year for 4 years along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities. Applicants should meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria. The start date is September 2019.

How to apply

Please submit a pre-application by email to the UCL ERBE Centre Manager: bseer.erbecdt@ucl.ac.uk.

The application should include the following:

  • A covering letter clearly stating your motivation, and stating your understanding of eligibility according to these guidelines: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/
  • CV
  • Names and addresses of two academic referees
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s),

Pre-application deadline: 10th May 12:00 noon (UK time)

Interview date: tbc

Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme.  For further details about the admission process, please contact: bseer.erbecdt@ucl.ac.uk .

For any further details regarding the project, contact Prof Jim Watson on j.watson@ucl.ac.uk


You will be undertaking this project in UCL as part of the new EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE CDT). This is a collaboration between UCL, Loughborough University and Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI). For more information please see http://erbecdt.ac.uk/#about.