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  Visualising urban heat systems

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Catherine Bale  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Are you interested in decarbonising our energy system to help meet climate targets? Do you want to put your data analysis skills to use enabling decisions that will transform heat systems in cites? We are looking for enthusiastic applicants with a quantitative background (engineering/earth science/environmental science/geography) to join our interdisciplinary project and study for a PhD!

Transforming the heat system is an urgent priority for the UK. Immediate action is required if we are to radically reduce carbon emissions produced by the provision of heat and meet our national and international climate-change targets, and decisions taken today will affect our energy system for decades to come. In addition to the pressing need to mitigate climate change, fuel poverty affects 11% of households in England, and the current cost of living crisis will exacerbate this greatly; we need to find ways to provide affordable heating in the face of rising energy prices. The demand for cooling is also likely to rise substantially in coming years in response to a warmer climate and growing thermal comfort requirements, which will increase energy use and add to carbon emissions. Cities could provide the key to transforming our heat systems. Around 80% of people in the UK live in urban areas. There are many decentralised technology options available for moving from fossil fuel-based heat provision to affordable low-carbon systems, including technologies such as individual heat pumps and shared ground heat exchange, networks that provide heat from renewable and waste heat sources, and the replacement of natural gas with hydrogen in the gas grid. Previous modelling of urban heat systems has focussed on understanding potential uptake of just one of these technology types, and has often assumed that there would be one 'system architect'. In reality, an integrated mix of technologies will be needed, and the system will contain multiple decision-makers. This research project will help incorporate this complexity into models that can be used to explore various heat-system scenarios. What mix of technologies would most benefit the multiple stakeholders in cities? Where should we invest in a city if we want to reduce fuel poverty? And how do the many decision-makers involved - including local authorities, gas and electricity networks operators, and central government - make decisions now to ensure that our heating and cooling needs are met for the next 30 years? 

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

A highly competitive EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently £17,668 in academic session 2022/23) per year for 3.5 years. This opportunity is open to UK applicants only. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit. Please visit our website for further information.

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