EPSRC PhD studentship: Increasing the sustainability of the UK Gas Network: gas from renewable energy sources

Supervisors:  Dr Bridget Woodman, Energy Policy Group, Geography, CLES and Professor Catherine Mitchell, Energy Policy Group, Geography, CLES

We are inviting applications for this EPSRC funded PhD studentship to commence as soon as possible. For eligible students the award will cover UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend (in 2013/14 this will be £13,726 for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students) for three years. This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding. Studentships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Successful applicants will be based within Geography (Cornwall campus, near Falmouth) at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter.

The UK has a demanding target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. In the energy sector most policy, regulatory and academic attention has to date focused on improving the carbon performance of the electricity system. This project will extend that to the contribution that gas can make to a lower carbon future.

Gas is central to the UK’s energy system, supplying about one third of total energy, whether as the main source of heating fuel, or for electricity generation. This is likely to continue in future, albeit at reducing levels, with gas providing a relatively flexible source of energy to complement increasing amounts of renewable electricity up to 2050. Most UK gas comes from conventional sources (ie natural gas), and the market is dominated a few established companies. Compared with some other European countries, the degree to which renewable forms of gas such as biogas, and new entrants can access the network is very limited. So, for example, only one commercial biomethane injection site is connected to the UK gas network whereas in Germany there are around 100, and in Sweden there are plans for all natural gas to be replaced with biogas.

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Using the developing Transitions Theory literature as a starting point, this project will:

  • Examine the current policy and regulatory frameworks for the UK gas industry and the degree to which these may constrain the development of more sustainable alternatives
  • Compare UK frameworks with up to three other European case study countries
  • Develop policy and regulatory measures which could encourage the use of more sustainable gas

You must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant subject. Knowledge of energy systems, the gas industry and /or European energy policy would be useful.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£13,726 per annum for 2013-2014), research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the eligibility requirements outlined by EPSRC (see http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/Pages/eligibility.aspx). Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. Students from outside of the EU would not be eligible for this award.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 8th September 2013.

For full project details, instructions on how to apply and a link to the application form, go to the apply button below.

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