The UK Islands Growth Deal[1] established the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ)[2] to facilitate and catalyse the energy transition across the Scottish Islands. The highly ambitious mission to meet the emissions reduction targets by 2030 creates the context for research. The target to downshift fossil fuel by 80% is the driver for the research programme. Fossil fuel is ubiquitous in the daily lives, the essential goods and services and the economic activities of Orkney, Shetland and Outer Hebrides. The short timeframe of less than a decade to achieve net zero carbon means that ‘action research’ must be employed. This entails starting from the ground-up, working with the local communities, councils and organisations to change what they are doing now, in ways that work for them now and into the future. The ICNZ will involve a sizeable group of MSc and PhD students together with postdoctors, in the Transition Lab. The Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering (InTIME)[3] methodology will be employed to work with cohorts of stakeholders from the range of energy ecosystems, e.g. residential and commercial buildings, private and freight transport, and primary production and manufacturing. This PhD scholarship is to be awarded to an outstanding candidate with an engineering background who aims to become a leader in Transition Engineering. The research will be interdisciplinary, involving energy supply, infrastructure and policy, and also end-use energy conversions, essential needs, behavior, economics, and social and environmental factors.[4]

This research will explore the questions of how to make effective use of data, modelling and processes for energy transition through a “cohort” of stakeholder participants representing a particular energy ecosystem. There are obvious challenges for collecting and using data about energy production, retail and end-use consumption. There are numerous challenges in modelling of transitions.[5] Energy scenarios have been a major area of research interest for 20 years and an influential tool for policy-makers, but social acceptance factors are becoming understood to be greater influence that is not well understood.[6] The InTME Stakeholder Journey that will be developed and employed in the ICNZ will work to engage the cohort through trust, curiosity and reflection on history, and by using data, modelling and gamification to explore the transition to net zero through action research projects.[7]


The supervisory team brings the following skill sets to the project:

Susan Krumdieck: Energy Transition, Transition Engineering, Academic Lead on Islands Centre for Net Zero




[3] S. Krumdieck, Transition Engineering, Buiding a Sustainable Future, CRC Press (2019).

[4] Le, F.G.N., Trutnevyte, E., Strachan, N., A review of socio-technical energy transition (STET) models, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 100 (2015) 290-305.

[5] McDowall, W., Geels, F.W., Ten challenges for computer models in transitions research: Commentary on Holtz et al., Environmental Innovations and Societal Transitions, 22 (2017) 41-49.

[6] Schubert, D.K.J., Thuß, S., Most, D., Does political and social feasibility matter in energy scenarios?, Energy Research & Social Science, 7 (2015) 43-54.


[7] Jefferson, M., Energy realities or modelling: Which is more useful in a world of internal contradictions? Energy Research & Social Science,  22 (2016) 1-6.


Energy Transition Action Research, From the Ground Up: Data Exchange and Digital Tools for Transition Labs

PhD Research and MSc Projects

Supervisor Professor Susan Krumdieck
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