Relationship between the energy system and economy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment


The energy system needs to the respond to climate crisis within the background of a global pandemic, faltering economies and climate and ecological breakdown. As well as the rapid decarbonisation of the energy system, it is clear that demand for energy must also reduce to reach cumulative CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Our research at Leeds, along with others, demonstrates that GDP growth is a central driver to increasing demand on energy of the subsequent GHG emissions. The lack of evidence for sustained decoupling of GDP growth and energy use, has led many to call for structural economic change to align both economic and low carbon energy systems in the future. It is simply not possible for both systems to be pulling in the opposite direction

Using quantitative approaches, the PhD will consider the relationship between economic structure and the energy system and define what a low energy economic future looks like for the UK. This will involve combining different modelling frameworks from energy system modelling through to macro-econometric modelling approaches. At the University of Leeds we have built an econometric energy-economy model of the UK: our MAcroeconometric Resource COnsumption (MARCO) model, which includes over 70 socio-technical-economic variables. By uniquely including thermodynamic energy (exergy) efficiency and primary, final and useful energy stages, MARCO-UK provides new insight into the role of energy in the UK economy: the contribution of energy as a factor of production and its interrelationship with labour and capital, and the dynamics of energy efficiency-rebound. In so doing, it also addresses many of the energy productivity questions recently posed by the Minister of Climate Change and Industry.

At present the model lacks sector level detail to fully explain the relationship between energy demand, jobs and the structure of the economy. Further development of this model is required to fully answer the key question posed above. The successful candidate will be given the space to interpret the research question and encouraged to demonstrate the ability to think critically and shape their own PhD within the topic area.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517860/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2025
2601025 Studentship EP/T517860/1 30/09/2021 29/06/2025 Samuel Betts-Davies