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User engagement with renewable energy: what works in theory and what is done in practice?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 03, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Research Area: Sustainability and environment

[[User engagement with renewable energy: what works in theory and what is done in practice?]]

This PhD will explore how, and how effectively, different user engagement theories are being applied in local and integrated renewable energy projects. It will use a range of case studies to investigate how user engagement is implemented by energy scientists in the context of a low-carbon energy transition, and make recommendations for future projects, particularly in terms of bringing social user engagement understandings to technical project leads.

The design and delivery of new energy systems for a low-carbon economy depend on end-user engagement with new technologies. Whilst a growing body of energy social science explores technology use and acceptance, little work has been done on how energy project leads may utilise this to inform and qualitatively engage with end users and how effective their efforts are.

This innovative PhD will focus on questions surrounding, e.g. 1/ what user engagement theories are mobilised by technical project leads, 2/ how they are then used in specific socio-economic contexts, including social aspects of engagement and communication with end users, and 3/ how effective they are.

This is a collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS), the UK’s main authority on geoscience. BGS will support access to relevant energy projects, including a wide energy-focused stakeholder base, and provide advisors’ time. The project will support the ‘User engagement, preferences and behaviours’ work package of the EPSRC EnergyREV consortium, funded under the Industrial Strategy ‘Prospering from the energy revolution’ theme.

The Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) offers an internationally leading research environment, including on how the energy system influences the individual and how the individual influences the system. The GSI is part of the £6m ESRC Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity; has won grants from six of the UK research councils; and is currently co-ordinating three EU energy policy projects (SHAPE ENERGY, MEDEAS, and RRING).

How to apply

To apply, you’ll need: A first class bachelor’s degree or a 2:1 bachelor’s degree and a masters at merit level or above. Equivalent awards will be considered. Qualifications must be relevant for the particular studentship you are applying for.

You can apply online via our Vice Chancellor’s PhD Studentships page ( Under each project description you will find a link to the application form.

Full details of the application process and the terms and conditions can also be found on the above- page.

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