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Energy Demand Reduction


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 25 March 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Professor Greg Marsden and Dr Kate Pangbourne
Additional supervisors
John Barrett, Peter Taylor
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The University is delighted to announce a major investment in supporting our world leading research on Energy Demand reduction. As part of its commitment to the UKRI funded Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC), three PhD studentships, for 3.5 years of study are being advertised to contribute to our programme of research.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>The EDRC is a five year centre running to 2028 which undertakes research for an affordable and secure low energy future. Our interdisciplinary research programme identifies evidence-based energy demand reductions for a sustainable and more equitable future. The University of Leeds is a major partner in the Centre, leading three of the five research themes on Futures, Place and Governance.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Due to the inter-disciplinary nature of the centre, we welcome applicants with a wide range of academic backgrounds including social sciences, engineering and natural sciences who have a passion for understanding how to accelerate the transition towards a zero carbon economy through enabling a profound reduction in energy demand. Several potential PhD topics are set out below but these should be seen to be indicative and applicants are encouraged to bring forward their own ideas for topics which relate to the research themes listed above&nbsp;(see <a aria-label="Link" href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" title=""></a>).&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The PhD supervision teams will be led by the Co-Investigators on the EDRC project (<a href="">John Barrett</a>, <a href="">Greg Marsden</a>, <a href="">Kate Pangbourne</a> and <a href="">Peter Taylor</a>) as appropriate as part of a dual supervision model operating at Leeds. We welcome applications from prospective students who have their own funding but would be interested in affiliating with the EDRC programme.</p> <p>It is expected that the PhD students will play an active role in the whole Centre and will develop their research skills and interests both at Leeds and through EDRC.</p> <h4>Indicative PhD topics</h4> <p>1. Tax reforms for systemic change<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Environmental taxes are known to have a significant impact on emissions outcomes and fairness of taxation across the system (Gazhouani et al., 2021). However, tax systems are large, complex and have multiple intersecting concerns. Whilst changes to particular policies might catch the headlines, the bulk of the tax system remains largely stable and does not necessarily align with or slows the transition to more radical lower energy demand futures. For example, vehicle taxation policies can stimulate the uptake of electric vehicles but are built around an assumption of purchase price for new cars being the mechanism which defines the future fleet (Dineen et al., 2018). Shared access and ownership-usership models can be more difficult to introduce because they do not align with the current default position of individual ownership (Vanrykel et al., 2019). This research would review the types of societal transition set out in the work by the CREDS research centre on Positive Low Energy Demand Futures and identify a sample of societal transitions which matter to energy consumption and carbon emissions, but which will be frustrated by the current taxation system. It could review alternative tax systems in other parts of the world to identify potentially effective alternatives. The work could then proceed in a number of directions, analysing the specific impacts of tax changes through economic modelling or exploring the political and societal readiness for such policy shifts. It would also be of interest to explore place-based differential impacts of taxes to understand the diversity of the impacts of national policy.</p> <p>Denis Dineen, Lisa Ryan &amp; Brian &Oacute; Gallach&oacute;ir (2018) Vehicle tax policies and new passenger car CO2 performance in EU member states, Climate Policy, 18:4, 396-412, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2017.1294044</p> <p>Ghazouani, A., Jebli, M.B. &amp; Shahzad, U. (2021) Impacts of environmental taxes and technologies on greenhouse gas emissions: contextual evidence from leading emitter European countries. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 22758&ndash;22767. <a href=""></a></p> <p>Vanrykel, F., De Borger, B. and Bourgeois, M., (2019). 12. Sharing cars: a legal and economic analysis of the taxation of B2C car-sharing models. Environmental Fiscal Challenges for Cities and Transport, 21, p.168.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> 2. Aspirational consumption as a barrier and opportunity for change in reducing energy demand<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The Positive Low Energy Futures pathway describe a future where energy demand is reduced by 50% without compromising quality of life (Barrett et al, 2022). This will require changes in consumption patterns with some groups requiring greater changes than others. The proposed research aims to explore the role of aspirational consumption in shaping energy demand patterns, investigating how it acts as both a barrier and an opportunity for change in reducing energy demand (Ivanova et al, 2020). Aspirational consumption refers to practices where citizens aspire to purchase a certain product as a means of satisfying their need to fit in with a certain social group. The analysis would combine quantitative and qualitative assessments of the relationship between energy demand and consumption developing new low energy pathways.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Barrett, J., Pye, S., Betts-Davies, S. et al. Energy demand reduction options for meeting national zero-emission targets in the United Kingdom. Nat Energy 7, 726&ndash;735 (2022). <a href=""></a></p> <p>Ivanova D., Barrett J., Wiedenhofer D., Macura B., Callaghan M., Creutzig F. (2020) Quantifying the potential for climate change mitigation of consumption options, Environ. Res. Lett. 15 093001, DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/ab8589<br /> &nbsp;<br /> 3. Public sector organizations as agents of change<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Both directly and indirectly through the funding or co-funding of services, national and local governments have a major influence over energy demand and emissions for a wide variety of emissions. This includes the NHS, Universities, Schools, Colleges, heritage organisations, social housing, museums, prisons and many more, representing around 20% of the UK&rsquo;s employment as well as influencing through their own procurement. All such organisations now have commitments to decarbonisation and are each seeking to undertake initiatives to move towards net zero. This project will explore large public sector organisations and anchor institutions and their potential to act as much broader agents of change in changing energy demand and reducing carbon emissions.</p> <p>The project could take many routes, including exploring the extent to which there are networks of organisational learning and good practice or inertia or whether the complexity of funding, regulated performance and procurement in a constrained funding environment limits the scope for &lsquo;municipal entrepreneurialism&rsquo;.</p> <p>Tingey, M. and Webb, J. (2020) &lsquo;Governance institutions and prospects for local energy innovation&rsquo;, Energy Policy, 138.</p> <p>Lumbreras, J., Moreno-Serna, J., Palau, G., Peris, J., Oquendo-di Cosola, V., S&aacute;nchez-Chaparro, T. and Mataix, C. (2023). University&ndash;City Partnerships for Sustainable Urban Transformations. The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sustainability in Higher Education: An Agenda for Transformational Change.</p> <p>4. Tourism as a barrier and opportunity for change</p> <p>Touristic areas often have very imbalanced populations across the year &ndash; meaning it does not make sense to size things like EV charge point provision for the occasional seasonal user (DfT, 2022). It is also known that second home ownership and the private rental market for holiday lets drives up the demand for house building and resultant emissions (Barrett et al., 2022). There are also risks that houses with more occasional demand are treated differently in their priority for energy efficiency improvements. Yet, there are also opportunities for tourism to be somewhere people experience something different, a practice which introduces energy or social innovations ( Indeed, some people actively seek a different type of lifestyle as part of their holiday experience (such as the slow tourism movement). This PhD topic would explore the extent to which a place-based analysis of the opportunities and barriers to energy and carbon reduction generated by tourism. It would be well suited to a mixed methods quantitative and qualitative research study. We would particularly welcome approaches which seek to explore the social and economic issues which shape decision-making on the transition both at a household and a wider institutional scale (e.g. tourism as an economic strategy).</p> <p>Barrett, J., Pye, S., Betts-Davies, S. et al. (2022) Energy demand reduction options for meeting national zero-emission targets in the United Kingdom. Nature Energy, 7, 726&ndash;735</p> <p>DfT (2022) Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy, Department for Transport, London,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> 5. Offshore or reshore: the future of UK industry and its impact on energy demand</p> <p>The UK has historically moved away from domestic manufacturing towards a service-based economy. Over the same period the supply chains of all goods and services have become increasingly international and complex (Wiedmann and Lenzen, 2018). Whether this trend towards offshoring industry continues, or whether reshoring of manufacturing activity occurs could be driven by a combination of concerns around climate change, the security of supply chains, domestic jobs, and costs. Barriers in terms of access to suitable sites, workforce and finance could also limit reshoring in certain regions or sectors. This PhD would utilise qualitative and quantitative techniques to assess the current reliance of UK consumers and businesses on international trade; form a number of scenarios for the future direction of key UK industrial sectors; and assess the impact this could have on energy demand and emissions, alongside economic and social factors. The effect such scenarios would have on the opportunities for the decarbonisation of industry would be assessed - for example reshoring may increase the potential for resource efficiency opportunities to impact territorial emissions (Cooper et al. 2017). The impact on national decarbonisation pathways would also be considered.</p> <p>Wiedmann, T., Lenzen, M. Environmental and social footprints of international trade. Nature Geosci 11, 314&ndash;321 (2018). <a href=""></a></p> <p>Cooper, S.J.G., Giesekam, J., Hammond, G.P., Norman, J.B., Owen, A., Rogers, J.G., and Scott, K. Thermodynamic insights and assessment of the &lsquo;circular economy&rsquo;, Journal of Cleaner Production 162,1356-1367 (2017). <a href=""></a></p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Energy Demand Reduction as well as <a href="">Professor Greg Marsden</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>As part of its commitment to the UKRI funded Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC &ndash; three PhD studentships are being advertised to contribute to our programme of research.&nbsp;</p> <p>The project is fully funded a with maintenance loan that matches UKRI maintenance stipend each year.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the Post Graduate Admissions team by emailing:</p> <p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>