Summary

The UK’s net-zero emission target by 2050 provides clear direction to implement energy efficiency measures, renewable and efficient technology adaptation.  This requires a strategic decarbonisation effort for each sector based on their energy/emission but also needs an overall sector integration approach. In Northern Ireland, the heat sector consumed 50% of energy followed by the Transport sector 33% and the Power sector 17% in 2017. However, surprisingly, the gas and electricity share was only 29% in total energy consumption while the remaining came from petroleum products. Despite 2% and 8% of non-domestic connections for gas and electricity, large industrial and commercial customers consumed 55% of gas and 63% (non-domestic) of electricity in total gas and electricity consumption, respectively.

To decarbonise the heat and electricity sector in NI requires high penetration of renewable energy and energy storage technology at a different scale. In order to make an evidence-based decision for location/technology/cost/ etc, it requires an energy load profile (heat and electricity) and identification of clusters. Also, due to grid constraints, it is difficult to install new renewable based technology in the congested area despite the huge potential. There is a heat map for electricity constraint for NI but no heat load map or any industrial cluster map that can be used along with electricity, wind, geothermal and gas network profiles.

This project aims to develop heat a load map for industrial customers and identify the industrial cluster within NI particularly large heat clusters within the respective council area. To gather extensive data, surveys and information from land and property service, EPC data and data from other government agencies would be obtained. Based on the data analysis, and using tools available for GIS, a heat load cluster map would be developed.

This map would be aligned with the electricity constraint map to identify limitations and potential for various technologies such as energy storage, heat pumps, district heat network etc for those industrial clusters.

In addition, the energy vector (heat, electricity, and transport) integration potential would be evaluated based on their techno-economic assessment for a particular council area from the respective heat cluster. This would lay the foundation for implementing various technology deployments and concrete policy development.

​The overall project will be carried out at Centre for Sustainable Technology (CST) and in collaboration with a staff member from the School of Geography and Environmental Science (SGES). CST would provide support in energy-related software, tools and access to existing contacts with utility companies, local councils, housing executives, government bodies and businesses, whereas SGES would provide support for data, and software access related to GIS development. The project would develop methodologies, GIS maps, and industrial heat load clusters that would be valuable information and knowledge for the NI economy going forward. This project would require travel within Northern Ireland to conduct interviews, surveys, meetings, and data collection.


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,840 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


Recommended reading

BEIS, 2021. Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/net-zero-strategy

Agbonaye, O, Keatley, P, Huang, Y, Ademulegun, O & Hewitt, N 2021, 'Mapping demand flexibility: A spatio-temporal assessment of flexibility needs, opportunities and response potential', Applied Energy, vol. 295, 117015. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.117015

Ademulegun, O, Keatley, P & Hewitt, N 2021, 'Techno-Economic Analysis of Energy Storage within Network Constraint Groups for Increasing the Share of Variable Renewable Energy', The Electricity Journal, vol. 34, no. 6, 106974, pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tej.2021.106974

Agbonaye, O, Keatley, P, Huang, Y, Ademulegun, O & Hewitt, N, Northern Ireland Demand Flexibility Map, 2020, Web publication/site. DfE, 2020. Energy in Northern Ireland 2020. [Online] Available at: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/Energy-In-Northern-Ireland-2020.pdf

Le, KX, Huang, MJ, Wilson, C, Shah, NN & Hewitt, NJ 2020, 'Tariff-based load shifting for domestic cascade heat pump with enhanced system energy efficiency and reduced wind power curtailment', Applied Energy, vol. 257, 113976. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113976

Hewitt, N, Cotter, D, Huang, M & Shah, N 2019, Industrial Heat Pumps in the UK, Current Constraints and Future Possibilities. in IIR 25th ICR2019 International Congress of Refrigeration. pp. 4463-4470, ICR2019 : The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration, Montreal, Canada, Montreal, Canada, 24/08/19.

Mc Kenzie, P., 2019. Energy Justice and Energy Poverty. [Online] Available at: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/78439023/QUB_Presentation_2019_McKenzie.pdf Mc Kenzie, P., 2018.

Northern Ireland Assembly, Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS). [Online] Available at: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/files/78439176/KESS_Policy_Briefing_Paper_2018_McKenzie.docx

Inna, V, Keatley, P, Shah, N, Green, R & Hewitt, N 2018, 'How heat pumps and thermal energy storage can be used to manage wind power: A study of Ireland', Energy, vol. 157, pp. 539-549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2018.03.001


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

I had an interesting time at Ulster University, Jordanstown. Many thanks to all the lecturers, library staff and research school for their time and effort getting me through my PhD!

Philip Bradley - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My primary research interests focus on sustainable construction materials for the delivery of environmentally responsible building and infrastructure systems. Within that field, I am particularly interested in the combination of geopolymer binders and recycled aggregates as construction materials with a balance among technical, environmental and economic factors.I would like to express my appreciation to my supervisors and the technicians/staffs at School of Built Environment, for their consistent support, valuable feedback, attention to details, patience and encouragement during my PhD course.

An Huynh - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

This journey is quite a challenge for me. I am proud of me finally getting through my PhD. And I’ll never forget the valuable memories that Ulster University has given me, the people, the beautiful sceneries, the happiness, the language improvement, and the hard work. ​​I would like to express my sincere thank you to my supervisors, my colleagues, my friends and my family. I couldn't have got through my PhD without your help and support. I know that you will continue to pay attention to my growth path in the future and be happy with my achievements. So, I’ll take all the knowledge I have learned and keep on working for a better future.​

Shurui Wang - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My proudest moment was when I was accepted to pursue my PhD in Ulster University. My favourite memory was how I met my group of friends who also pursue their dreams in this foreign country. I'll never forget the tough times I underwent during my study, but thanks to those times that I finally managed to lose weight. I couldn't have got through this without my supervisors' support, kind encouragement and firmest trust. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be - do not procrastinate, you gotta learn to move forward in life when you feel stuck.

Mengmeng Dou - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I came to Ulster University to challenge myself with a PhD study under Vice-Chancellor's Research Studentship at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning. My supervisors helped me much from giving valuable guidance to supporting any difficulties, which makes me feel that I am the luckiest student.I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisors, family, friends and colleagues for supporting me tirelessly. Without you, I couldn't have got through my PhD with some great achievements:Best PhD Research Paper in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Ulster UniversityBest Student Paper Award at the conference of World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2017, San Francisco, USA.Student Registration Grant for demonstrating academic excellence in research at 17th International Conference on Sustainable Technologies (SET 2018), China.

Khoa Xuan Le - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My academic background includes a MSc in Process Safety Technology, in which my topic of thesis involved the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This prompted me to further my knowledge in this field by embarking on a PhD at the HySAFER institute at Ulster University. Here, I conducted research on the consequences of stored hydrogen tank rupture in confined space, with the use of computational fluid dynamics.My proudest moment in all of this was informing my parents, not only for being accepted as a PhD researcher at Ulster University, but also after three years that it was indeed completed. It goes without saying that without the guidance and support from my supervisors, the companionship created by my fellow colleagues with whom I shared an office with, and the people otherwise encountered and befriended during this period, the light at the end of the tunnel of it all would have rather been a train. And for that, I will be forever grateful and all the attained memories preserved

Wulme Dery - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I worked for 35 years for the Housing Executive - latterly as its Head of Research. I had completed an MSc in Urban Policy in the 2000s - and it had been a longstanding ambition of mine to complete a PhD that brought together a number of strands of policy-related research that had been of particular interest to me. Undertaking a PhD at Ulster University allowed me to fulfil this ambition in an enjoyable manner.Completing my PhD has brought me an immense amount of personal satisfaction. A major part of this was down to the incredible support I received from my two supervisors Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr Michael McCord. Their ongoing advice, encouragement and support helped take me outside my comfort zone and played a major part in my achievement. Even my viva proved to be an enjoyable experience and enabled me to feel that I had gained a level of expertise in a sphere that could make a small but significant contribution to addressing some of the key housing issues facing policy

Joe Frey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a senior researcher at Korea Fire Institute which is a state-owned company specialised at fire safety engineering in the Republic of Korea. I obtained BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering. Prior to enter a PhD course at the School of the Built Environment in Ulster University, I worked for over a decade in the engineering industry. With relation to my PhD topic, my current research field is on fire safety using experimental and numerical approaches.Finally, I finished my study in Ulster University and became a Doctor of Philosophy in a field of fire safety!! There were a lot of good memories at Ulster University. I will never forget the rainbow on the Jordanstown campus which helps me to relieve my stress caused by stuck in concrete damaged plasticity theory. I felt great when receiving an annual PhD conference award as the best poster. I was excited to spent time with my officemates, Rumeel, and Emmanuel. I love every moment at Room 4B01 because it was a time to enhance my

Ohk Kun Lim - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a Swiss citizen, grew up in Papua New Guinea and graduated from Ukarumpa International Schools. I was trained and certified as a Swiss cabinetmaker and hold a Swiss diploma in electrical engineering from the Bern University of applied Science. In the past ten years I have been employed at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and have performed research in the field of energy conversion and storage. Research activities include; Alkali water electrolysis, metal hydride hydrogen storage, PEM fuel cell and stack development, catalytic oxidation of hydrogen for high temperature heat (cooking), energy systems for autarky living and liquid sorption heat storage. I lead the subtask Components and Systems of the IEA, SHC Program, Task 58 ‘Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage’ and have performed a part time external PhD at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in the development of a heat and mass

Benjamin Fumey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I studied my Integrated Masters (MSci) at Jordanstown from 2008-2012. After a few years working as an Estate Agent, I went back to academia to complete my PhD, looking at the broad area of health within the field of planning.Many PhDs are given a topic to begin with, however when I applied for the PhD scholarship I had to create my own research topic. This took me a while to establish, but eventually my hard work paid off and I narrowed my research into an area I am truly proud of - Active living, how the built environment can influence physical activity and how this was interpreted in the domains listed in my thesis title. My favourite aspect of the PhD was presenting my research and getting the acknowledgment from other academics that my research was interesting, robust and well thought out. I submitted an abstract to AESOP, an annual planning conference, and was given the opportunity to present my work in Venice. I also presented my work to the president of RTPI. There is nothing

Owen Hawe - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning