Blockchain-based Local Energy Markets

Primary supervisor

Additional supervisors

  • Richard Banach

Contact admissions office

Other projects with the same supervisor

Funding

  • Directly Funded Project (European/UK Students Only)
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

Applications are invited for this fully funded (tuition fees plus stipend), full-time PhD EPSRC iCASE Studentship, to start in April 2019. It is intended that this studentship is part of a newly established partnership between the University of Manchester and UrbanChain

Project Description

Since the privatisation of the energy market in the UK, the inefficiency of its structures have resulted in unaffordable energy for micro consumers such as households and SMEs. Similar market structures distributed worldwide have also experienced the same issue. A few contributing factors leading to this issue are complicated switching process between suppliers, current high-cost technical infrastructure for administration and billing purposes and fixed rate supply system. With the use of blockchain as an infrastructure, there is a significant opportunity to disrupt the current energy market with automation and integration of services, provide savings in the energy provision process and reduce energy bills for end users. However, little scientific information is available regarding the costs associated with running a blockchain-based energy market and the best methods for scaling up such a platform.

eChain is a blockchain-based energy trading platform developed by UrbanChain, which uses hyperledger as a building block. The platform intends to reduce energy bills for households by up to 50% and for SMEs by up to 40%. The embedded features of the platform are real-time switching, automated billing and administration, P2P trading between energy generators and consumers, and demand side management. However, to run the platform with a minimum cost on end users??? bills, there is a need to have a large number of consumption and generation profiles which subscribe to the platform and trade using the platform. This is particularly a challenge when the subscription of micro consumers (i.e. households and SMEs) to the platform is offered on an ad hoc basis.

The main objectives of this project are:
1- to develop a detailed understanding of the costs associated with running eChain, based on extensive evaluation of cloud hosting services and provision of services using company???s servers
2- to explore different technical options to reduce the costs at the different stages of running eChain
3- to propose and develop an innovative and effective method in response to the available technical options

Person Specification

For information
- candidate must hold a minimum of an upper Second Class UK Honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant science or engineering discipline.
- Candidates will be expected to comply with the University???s policies and practices of equality, diversity and inclusion.
- Candidates must meet the School???s minimum English Language requirement.

Skills and Qualifications

Essential

- A passion for blockchain technology, preferably concerning the energy sector
- Enthusiasm for working with cloud services and virtual machines
- Capable of producing highly original work and an enquiring mind with well-developed analytical and investigative skills
- Ability to rapidly acquire new skills and to work with new technologies with little documentation or support
- Self-motivated, with the drive and initiative to carry out projects according to plan and the ability to quickly adapt in a fast-changing environment
- A track record in software and/or electronic engineering, distributed ledger systems and/or system security
- Awareness of emerging trends and developments in relevant technology, gained through project work as part of a relevant degree, extra-curricular project work or employment experience
- Good written and oral communication skills, able to promote ideas by logical argument and capable of presenting the results of a project in a clear and effective manner

Desirable

- Understanding of different blockchain platforms and how to apply this to the development of user interfaces
- Experience of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team
- Ability to propose novel ideas involving the application of blockchain technology to energy market, and the ability to pitch these ideas convincingly to non-technical people
- Sound resource management skills and be able to lead, motivate and direct support staff and contractors contributing to the project
- Good time management and determination to meet deadlines

Qualified applicants are strongly encouraged to informally contact Dr Mustafa Mustafa (Mustafa.Mustafa@manchester.ac.uk) or Dr Richard Banach (richard.banach@manchester.ac.uk) to discuss the application prior to applying.

Person specification

For information

Essential

Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.

Desirable

Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.
  • You will have good time management.

General

Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?
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