Sustainable management of energy to improve quality of life in developing countries

Lead Supervisor: Prof Darren Robinson, Architecture
Co-supervisor: Dr Sonal Choudhary, Management; Dr Milijana Odavic, Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018

Project Description
This interdisciplinary project seeks to develop and test new techniques to better manage the utilisation of scarce electricity in locations that are too remote to be connected to power grids or that are connected to grids that are frequently interrupted. In this our focus is on India, where many households lack basic electrical appliances (e.g. cooling, refrigeration) that many of us take for granted.

This will involve extending the functionality of an advanced Multi-Agent Stochastic Simulation platform, that was originally developed to model and simulate building occupants’ energy using behaviours, to also simulate interactions between electrical energy supply, storage and demand devices; employing artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to optimise these interactions to meet Indian homeowners’ objectives (service delivery quality, cost).

This will require a mixed-methods approach, benefitting from supervisory experience in multi agent simulation (Prof. Robinson), social science (Dr. Choudhary) and electrical engineering (Dr. Odavic), and involving travel to India.

The principle of extending our Multi-Agent Stochastic Simulation (MASS) platform to model and simulate electrical devices and Demand Response (DR) strategies has been proven through an initial prototype. But this is currently restricted to just one supply device (photovoltaic panels), one type of demand device (washing machines and dishwashers) and one storage device (a battery) and the minimisation of operational costs.

Through this Scholarship, we plan to extend MASS/DR to: (i) model a comprehensive range of supply, demand and storage devices, (ii) enhance our AI techniques to also optimise responses to local grid conditions (e.g. to avoid overloading cables or substations; or to manage responses to an interrupted supply), (iii) represent how people may respond to cues designed to modify their use of electrical energy services, and how this varies as a function of socioeconomic conditions.

This will require that we have a thorough understanding in the Indian context of: (i) the potential scope of DR technologies, (ii) candidate business models for their adoption, and the corresponding likelihood of adoption, (iii) how households might engage with DR technologies.

For this we will combine the collation of secondary data, with primary data acquired through participatory design focus groups and workshops in India.

Once complete, this new comprehensive prototype will be deployed to study the potential impacts of DR technologies in representative communities in India, selected to represent varying socioeconomic conditions and varying conditions of grid extent and quality.

Keywords: Quality of life, energy services, climate change mitigation, developing countries, multi-agent simulation
Subject areas: Applied Mathematics, Computer Science & IT, Data Analysis, Information Science, Mathematics, Operational Research, Software Engineering, Statistics, Applied Physics, Psychology, Civil & Structural Engineering, Electrical & Electronic, Energy, Environmental Engineering

Funding notes
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.  Applications should be received and complete by Monday 26th March 2018.

What to include in the application
Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. You should also outline any relevant experience and interests that you have in sustainability issues.

Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the department of this project’s lead supervisor. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. The starting date of the PhD will be the start of the next academic year – 1 Oct 2018. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.