We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD researcher to conduct cutting-edge research on the development of business models to facilitate flexible energy communities to pave the way towards a more sustainable and inclusive energy transition.
This PhD position is part of the NWO KIC call on 'Energy transition as a socio-technical challenge' for the project 'Flexible Energy Communities: Coupling e-mobility and energy communities (FlexECs)' containing several industrial and research partners across the Netherlands.
Energy Communities (ECs) organize collective and citizen-driven energy actions, and are increasingly gaining more attention to help pave the way for a clean energy transition, while moving citizens to the fore. https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/markets-and-consumers/energy-communities_en
However, there is a common assumption that ECs are bound to people living at relatively close proximity, mostly due to constraints of fixed energy grids, which strongly limits ECs and their success. To benefit from existing social communities for creating new energy sharing opportunities, like-minded citizens living further apart should also be able to participate in ECs.
FlexECs addresses this challenge by integrating ECs and electric mobility into "mobile ECs," thereby boosting social innovation. This novel approach thus creates more flexibility in the future design of ECs to accelerate the energy transition. The project aims to (1) co-create planning and evaluation tools for mobile ECs, taking into account heterogeneity in social, technical, legal, economic and spatial factors, and (2) introduce innovations via feasibility studies for implementation of mobile ECs involving researchers, public and private stakeholders.
The success of ECs largely depends on the business models adopted, but developing new models in light of changing roles and activities of energy actors is not straightforward. We seek a researcher motivated to tackle this challenge and provide solutions from economic, business, and social perspectives, as well as in combination with insights from spatial, technical, and legal perspectives.
In your position as a PhD researcher, you will:
- Critically assess and compare existing business model archetypes for ECs
- Identify and analyze possibilities for new types of business models to facilitate mobile ECs
- Co-develop sustainable and inclusive business models for mobile ECs with project partners
- Appraise feasibility of business models via case studies
- Analyze changes in energy markets, especially EV market developments, energy prices and new technologies
- Evaluate policies to address energy and transport poverty
- Actively engage in the interdisciplinary dialogue, communicating and integrating findings with other (PhD) researchers and stakeholders involved in the project.
The candidate will be based at the Urban Economics Group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands, which has the mission of contributing to more resilient cities and regions in terms of social equality, economic advantages and environmental quality. The supervisors of the project will be Dr. Sol Maria Halleck Vega and Prof. Dr. Eveline van Leeuwen.