Institute for Sustainability


P2P Energy: Clean energy decentralised production, consumption and distribution

Key Words: peer-to-peer; energy sharing; energy commons; multi-agent decision making


Lead Supervisor: Dr Vasilis Vlachokyriakos

Project Studentship Code: IFS014

Programme Code: 8050F

To apply you must follow the 'How to Apply' instructions.

The objective of the proposal is to attempt to address some of the subsequent targets of the Sustainable Development Goals related with energy infrastructures and clean energy consumption, production and distribution through the employment of (algorithmically) efficient and (socially) just systems. This research topic stems from the observation that in a decentralised clean energy architecture, which is more and more possible due to recent developments in technology and engineering (e.g. distributed ledger etc.), there is an opportunity to develop commons-based and peer-to-peer approaches to the governance, ownership and in general the economics of energy production, consumption and distribution. Such a vision addresses at least three of UN’s SDGs, indicatively: (7) Affordable and clean energy; (9) Industry, innovation and infrastructure; and (12) Responsible consumption and production.

For such a commons-based approach to be achieved, it is of paramount importance to design and develop algorithms which enclose decision-making models and negotiations methods between human and artificial agents that guarantee the protection of such a common resource (i.e. clean energy), enable all affected parties to part take in its governance in an equal manner, provides resilience through the decentralisation of energy production, and ensures the fair distribution of the value extracted from this process.

As a result, the hypothesis of this PhD is that such algorithms can provide the basis for the development of sustainable energy services (SDG7 target) through the reliance on renewable sources and resilient energy production infrastructures (SDG9 target) through the decentralisation of production and consumption.

During the 30-month research period of the PhD (final 6 months for writing up) the student will:

  • Establish a partnership with small energy cooperatives in Europe and observe/participate in current decision making practices and current use of technology to inform decisions;
  • Engage existing energy producers (e.g. solar energy cooperatives in Greece and the UK) in a participatory process of co-designing prototype E-Systems for the facilitating the logistic and governance of clean energy production, distribution and exchange;
  • Use these observations and collected data as a basis to design algorithms and prototype systems to support such commons-based approaches to energy production and distribution through the combination of data originating from sensors, market and opinions;
  • Develop a prototype that facilitates cooperative negotiations between energy SMEs and enables the creation of synergies that further strengthen their cooperative character;
  • Experiment with distributed ledger technologies (e.g. Blockchain) as means to support trust between cooperatives and crypto-currencies for the exchange of energy between producers and consumers.