Filter by surname: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ | By department: Staff  Students  | Show all

PhD research: Energy from microgeneration: sustainability and perceptions in the UK

Paul Balcombe

Postgraduate student

Paul graduated in 2006 from The University of Manchester with an M.Eng. in Chemical Engineering with Industrial Experience. He was sponsored by Amec throughout his course, worked 3 summer placements and a year in industry (at BP Coryton oil refinery) and joined their design and project services division after graduation. His 4 years process engineering experience since then has been within design projects at various different stages (from conceptual, front-end, detailed design, commissioning as well as validation/ qualification work) within a number of industries; including nuclear, pharmaceutical, biodiesel, solar cells and carbon fibre production.

Microgeneration is the small-scale generation of heat and/ or electricity from a low-carbon source. The potential contribution towards a low-carbon energy mix, along with potential for increasing energy security and decreasing fuel poverty, has led the UK government to support the use of microgeneration. Currently, there are approximately 180,000 microgeneration systems in the UK, contributing less than 0.1% of total domestic energy use. Microgeneration could play a much greater role in providing energy to many sectors; however, there are many barriers to greater uptake. These include high capital costs, payback times, consumer awareness, space requirement within the home, personal effort required and perceived bureaucracy associated with planning and installation.

The aim of Paul Balcombe’s research is to investigate barriers to achieving microgeneration installation targets in the UK and to identify where the greatest opportunities lie for overcoming them. This research seeks to frame the barriers as socio-technical, involving interactions between human behaviour, technical systems and the environment. Research methods include Life Cycle Analysis, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Choice Modelling. These methods will be incorporated to frame a more holistic understanding of the issues. Technological and policy improvements will be identified where the greatest opportunities lie for reducing barriers to greater uptake.

Paul is supervised by Professor Adisa Azapagic and Professor Daniel Rigby.

Selected documents