Design and optimisation of domestic heating systems with energy storage for the decarbonisation of the heating sector

In the UK, heating is responsible for almost 50% of the energy consumption and about 80% of this is meet by fossil fuels with the associated emissions. Thus, the decarbonisation of the heating systems is essential to reach the ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets. While pathways for the decarbonisation of the electricity generation exist, the pathways for the decarbonisation of heating are less well defined. The pathways usually include demand reduction, electrification of heat, district heating, hydrogen and biomass based heating. However, on top of the large scale of the problem there are large seasonal variations, the demand is distributed throughout the country and the decarbonisation will effect most consumers.

Due to the low construction rates it is essential to integrate heating with renewable energy. Solar thermal collectors and heat pumps with renewable electricity could provide most of the UK heat demand and can be distributed throughout the country. However, they require thermal energy storage (TES) to bridge the mismatch between resource and demand. TES is necessary for different time scales from daily to seasonal, and allows the integration of demand side management and different energy vectors. While most of the individual technologies for low carbon heating are mature and commercially available, the widespread deployment in an integrated energy system is a challenging and unsolved problem.

In this project, the successful candidate will evaluate, design and optimise low carbon heating systems as part of the wider energy system. The particular area of low carbon heating can be decided based on the candidates preferences, skills and experiences and can come from a wide range of topics such as top-down or bottom-up heat demand modelling, integration of seasonal thermal storage, thermochemical energy storage or electrification of heating. The evaluation can be performed with existing simulation tools, e.g. TRNSYS or EnergyPlus) or the candidate can develop her own simulation framework. The candidate will develop a wide range of skills in the development and optimisation of low carbon heating systems with energy storage which will be widely applicable to the candidates future career. In addition, the project will influence the further work on the development of low carbon heat options.

Closing Date: 

Friday, February 1, 2019
Illustration of a low-carbon heating network
Illustration of a low-carbon heating network

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.