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Justice-oriented Energy Transitions and the Role of Smart Technologies in Emerging and Developing Countries


   Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP)

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  Prof Y Mulugetta  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) is inviting PhD applications (including a 2-page proposal) on the topic “Justice-oriented energy transitions and the role of smart technologies in emerging and developing countries”.

This research project will investigate a growing role that digital technologies play in the design and management of energy systems of the future in emerging and developing countries. The global energy landscape is undergoing rapid and significant change, driven by the decarbonisation imperative, rapid cost reduction of renewable energy technologies, and by the potential of new digital technologies to transform the sector. Digital technologies and services rely on access to large, representative and good quality datasets.

The clean energy transition is today recognised as a pathway towards addressing several SDGs. Digital transformation of their energy sector, supported by innovative technologies and new business models, is expected to create new opportunities to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to end-users. Current skills, capability and use of data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence for designing energy systems of the future are still in their infancy in emerging and developing countries. Regulatory, policy and governance options to managing the risks associated with digital transformation of energy systems in this group of countries, especially in ensuring the energy future is just and inclusive is given little consideration.

The project aims to fill in this research and policy gap by addressing the following questions:

  • What are the factors that enable the effective use of digital technologies and business models in designing justice-oriented energy transitions, taking an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach including primary data analysis, interviews, or ethnographic studies?
  • What are the characteristics of the innovation systems that can support the technological innovation for digitization for energy transition?
  • What are the desired and feasible regulatory and governance options to enable the design and implementation of digital transformation of the energy system that meet multiple SDGs simultaneously?

The specific research scope, purpose and questions will be sharpened together with the successful PhD candidate. This research will take a much needed interdisciplinary and multi-method perspective to investigate the nature and options for just energy transition in emerging and developing countries, making it ideal for UCL STEaPP.

STEaPP was founded in recognition that science, technology, and engineering expertise are vital to tackling today’s most pressing global challenges, from dealing with the effects of climate change on society to the risks associated with emerging digital technologies. The department creates a space for a diverse range of academics, policymakers, practitioners, and science and engineering experts to come together and apply their knowledge to tackling these complex challenges. Policy activities run as threads through all of our work. We collaborate closely with external decision makers to ensure that we are asking the relevant questions and addressing real needs through our education and research programmes.

How to Apply

This studentship is available starting from September 2022. Candidates should submit their application using the UCL doctoral studies application form and mark for the attention of Professor Yacob Mulugetta, Professor of Energy & Development Policy at Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy. For further information, interested candidates may contact Professor Mulugetta ([Email Address Removed]) with a covering letter and a CV.


Funding Notes

Award Start Date: September 2022
Duration of Award: 4 years
Amount: £24,122
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