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Blockchain Based Brokering of Electricity Supply Tariffs

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Banach
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Currently the process of supplying energy to households has led to a huge difference between the generated energy (wholesale) price and the final (retail) price for end users. For example, the index price (2014 = 100) of wholesale gas in 2015 was about 60 while its retail price was around 98. One of the major socioeconomic impacts of high energy prices for end users is an increasing number of households at risk of fuel poverty, and the 900M GBP of debt arrears of UK households to energy providers. To date, energy affordability is addressed by the UK government through the introduction of energy comparison websites and the roll-out of smart meters. But around 70% of energy users have not switched, and only around 3.5M smart meters have been installed. The comparison websites are not easy to use and are not a level platform for large and small providers. Research on peoples’ perception of smart meters shows that UK consumers do not trust energy companies and are worried about their privacy.

Distributed Ledger Systems (aka Blockchains) provide an approach to disintermediation (as well as to many other matters) that is attracting a great deal of interest currently. The purpose of this project is to investigate a blockchain based approach to disintermediating the electricity market in the UK. While a small scale study would be easy enough to do, that is not the aim of this project. The focus of the present project is to examine in detail what would be needed for a system that worked on a national scale. This is particularly challenging in view of the propensity of blockchain systems to behave in unexpected ways, and to generate unintended consequences and perverse incentives. Acceptable solutions must therefore address a host of dependability concerns besides mere functional correctness: scalability, robustness, resilience, low computational energy consumption, security, etc. These questions become particularly acute when one considers how critical energy supply is to economic stability at the national level, and how critical
public perception of the stability of energy supply is to political stability at the national level.

The project will address the following research questions:

1. What blockchain architecture(s) can be used to support a disintermediated energy market allowing participation by diverse agents in the different elements of the energy market?

2. What level of confidence would be required in blockchain behaviour in order to manage participation in energy trading?

3. How do the dependability concerns support the functional correctness of the energy market mechanisms?

4. What are the social, policy, regulatory, data protection, communications technology, and hardware issues that impact participation in energy trading?

Funding Notes

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide. Funding may only be available to a limited set of nationalities and you should read the full department and project details for further information

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Computer Science and Informatics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.86

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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