Advancing sustainable decentralised energy systems: an exploration of entrepreneurial business models and enabling technologies

This project is fully funded for a UK full time student. Application deadline is Friday 10th November 2021, with interviews scheduled to take place on Friday 17th December 2021.

For more info please get in touch

About the project or challenge area

Decentralised forms of energy production, storage and consumption are increasingly recognised as an important part of the transition away from fossil fuels in national and global energy systems. 

The purpose of this research is to explore the strategic emergence of innovative distributed energy systems and smart consumers which underpins a radical departure away from unsustainable conventional energy systems, towards new collaborative solutions. Moreover, Decentralised forms of renewable energy (also known as community energy) seeks to address sustainable development goals at local, national and global levels. Key research themes that are of interest to both academia and industry include:

  • Development of new energy services and the impact of digital transformation
  • Innovative business models enabling sustainable decentralised systems  
  • Barriers and limitations to the wider roll-out of decentralised energy systems
  • Business dynamics between established competitors and new entrants into the energy market

Why choose this opportunity?

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop top research and consultancy skills working
  • Manage a real-world project with various stakeholders
  • Develop system thinking, unique knowledge and transferable skills that can be applied in various ways to show value to potential employers
  • Publish and present your work in international conferences

You will also have collaboration opportunities with two external partners connected with the project:

The Schumacher Institute

  • The institute will support the project with research advise through regular meetings and facilitation of research activities.

  • Dharm Kapletia has a PhD in Engineering management from the University of Cambridge with over 10 years’ experience in research and consultancy, contributing to technology innovation and business transformation programmes.

Bristol Green Capital Partnership

  • The Company will support the project through regular advisory meetings and offer links through its robust network of organisations who have committed to working towards Bristol becoming a sustainable city.
  • Lizzi Testani – Chief Operating Office of Bristol Green Capital.

About you

Ideally applicants will have either engineering or business background in industry. However, we welcome applicants with other qualifications who can demonstrate knowledge, experience and skills developed in the workplace, or elsewhere, relevant to the area of research.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB)

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Dr Hadi Abulrub, Senior Lecturer in the School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 95 45605 or email


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Professor Chris McMahon, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 33 15669 or email

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Low Carbon Energy theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to develop sustainable energy policy and technologies which are crucial to providing a safe, reliable and low-cost energy supply for a growing global population. We innovate in every part of the energy system, from generation and storage, to regulation and end-user demand Find out more about the Low Carbon Energy theme.

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