Paul is a 27 year old PhD researcher at the University of Manchester, UK, jointly based in Chemical Engineering and Economics departments and funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute. His PhD is interdisciplinary, applying life cycle analysis with environmental valuation methods to investigate the sustainability, and consumer perceptions, of energy from microgeneration in the UK.
Paul is a chartered chemical engineer, having worked for engineering design houses for 5 years, designing new-build, and retrofitting existing, chemical plants in the nuclear, oil and gas, bulk chemical and pharmaceutical industries. His move to undertake a PhD was motivated by a desire to carry out innovative research in the renewable energy industry.
Interests outside of his studies are playing guitar in a number of bands around Manchester, as well as playing squash and swimming.
Paul’s research aims to improve our understanding of the environmental, economic and social impacts of microgeneration technologies in the UK and to determine how improvements in technology, manufacturing and policy can increase uptake of the technologies. Microgeneration is the small scale production of heat and/ or electricity from a low carbon source such as solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps.
The drive for climate change mitigation and more secure energy supplies has led to the growth of the microgeneration industry in many countries. However, despite government targets and incentive schemes, microgeneration uptake in the UK remains low with only 240,000 homes, out of over 25 million, having microgeneration installations. The low carbon nature of microgeneration suggests that widespread adoption can contribute to reducing household greenhouse gas emissions and the ability to sell energy back to the national grid means it may be an attractive economic option for consumers. However, the installation of microgeneration also represents significant cost and requires varying levels of space, time and effort from the consumer’s perspective.
The first part of Paul’s PhD involves using Life Cycle Analysis methodology to determine the environmental impacts of microgeneration technologies, alongside economic and social impact analyses, to understand the sustainability of microgeneration. The second part uses MaxDiff and CBC methodologies to analyse the relative importance of the many barriers to microgeneration adoption and to analyse how these differ across individuals and groups. Sawtooth CBC and market simulation software will be used to understand the relative importance of attributes in the purchase decision and how differently configured future microgeneration technologies might fare in the market.