PhD - Will the smart technology future be energy efficient?

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Science

Start Date: October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Tom Hargreaves

Project description: The future is heralded as smart. Smart phones are already pervasive. Smart TVs, cars, devices, and household appliances are all in evidence. In the UK, smart meters are beginning their mass roll out as an enabling technology for smart grids, smart homes, and smarter utilities and consumers as part of a new digital economy. The aim of this PhD is to examine what this smart future means for the energy system, and in particular, energy demand.

Specific research objectives could include: defining the common meaning of 'smart' across a range of smart technologies; characterising the adopters of smart technologies; identifying relationships between smart technologies in the ‘Internet of Things’; and determining the current and prospective impact of smart technologies on energy demand.

Research activities may include:

  • Mapping the range of available smart technologies to establish a framework for analysing the implications of a multifaceted smart future.
  • Characterising different market segments of smart technology adopters to chart the diffusion trajectories for smart technologies (e.g. Rogers 2003).
  • Exploring how a range of smart technologies are used to establish the preconditions for a fully smart future.
  • Assessing the current impact of smart technologies on everyday life and social practices (e.g. Silverstone and Hirsch 1992; Shove et al 2012) and their associated energy use at both micro and systemic levels to enable the modelling of more realistic scenarios of future impact.

Specific activities and methods used in the PhD can be shaped by the background and interests of the successful applicant. As a minimum, the PhD will take an interdisciplinary approach to the research questions.

Person specification: Masters degree (2:1 or higher) or equivalent vocational research experience in an applied social science discipline (e.g. sociology, geography, STS, psychology) or engineering. Proven research interest in energy systems, technologies, and everyday life.

Funding notes: This PhD project is in a Faculty of Science competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,296 and £1000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2016/17 the difference is £12,879 for the Schools of CHE & PHA, and £9,679 for CMP & MTH but fees are subject to an annual increase)

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South East England