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Characterising energy demand profiles for future low-carbon homes

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Jenkins
    Prof E Owens
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The UK is currently faced with extremely challenging targets for decarbonising our homes, with a particular emphasis on forms of low-carbon heating. For both new build (all homes to have low/zero carbon heating systems by 2025) and retrofits of existing buildings (e.g. 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050), the scale of required change is unprecedented.
At the same time, the UK is seeing significant change in the carbon intensity of our national energy systems; particularly the National Grid, where carbon intensity has reduced by approximately 50% in just over a decade. This has, largely, been achieved through an increase in renewables (with a significant drop in coal for electricity production). This picture therefore provides an interesting dilemma for a researcher: how can a robust pathway be proposed that accommodates changes to both demand-side (particularly heating) technologies and supply-side (electricity generation) technologies that allows for a robust, low-carbon future to be assured?
With this supply-demand matching problem in mind, to implement a successful heat decarbonisation strategy for our homes we must improve our understanding of transient energy and heat demand. Furthermore, such methods must be applicable to groups of (not just individual) buildings in an effective manner. Whilst energy demand data is becoming more accessible, there is still the need to correlate this with building and household characteristics so that well-founded decisions can be made on technology selection, control options and the impact of making such choices across a varied building stock. This project will approach this problem by bringing together highly standardised building information (from sources such an Energy Performance Certificates) with empirical energy data to create typical demand profile templates for different housing categories. The project will also attempt to address diversity of use (from different households), thermal inertia, and heating/storage technologies, so that demand flexibility opportunities available from the identified demand profile categories will be ascertained and demonstrated for key end-users of this information. In doing so, a methodology will be presented that can address many of the problems associated with a rapid transition of heating technologies (particularly, though not solely, electrification of heat) as we journey on a path towards low and zero carbon heating in UK homes.
The student will be working within Heriot-Watt’s Urban Energy Research Group (UERG). This nationally significant research group has been the recipient of millions of pounds of external research funding looking at the energy demand of buildings for mainland UK, island communities (such as Orkney) and developing countries (such as India). This PhD programme will therefore be well aligned with, and complement, active research projects funded by EPSRC and InnovateUK. These include the Centre of Energy Systems Integration (CESI), Community-scale Energy Demand Reduction in India (CEDRI), ReFlex (in Orkney), and Dispatchable Air-Conditioning (DAC).

Funding Notes

This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend in line with EPSRC recommended levels (currently £15,009) for the 42 months duration of the project.

Related Subjects

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