Smart energy systems

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

Spurred by the recent and ongoing growth of renewable generation in the electricity system there is much current interest in ‘smart’ electricity distribution grids. System smartness will allow for time-shifting of electricity demand and in the future will better incorporate electricity and other energy storage systems.

In this way a smart and renewables-based electricity system promises to deliver low-carbon electricity. What, however, will these changes imply for electricity system reliability? How will society adjust to, and accept these new realities? How will these innovations roll out around the world and what are the prospects for development and deployment in less developed countries? Such questions are of concern to researchers at The Open University.

The Open University is concerned with electricity futures at a range of system sizes and time scales. We have researched electricity futures on island systems over time periods of decades and grid stability in large systems over timescales of minutes. We have considered systems as large as continents and electricity management in individual homes.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree in a technical discipline (previously, students have been sought with a mathematical or an electrical power system engineering background). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Current/recent research projects

  • George Matthew, Research methods: system dynamics modelling of smart grid development and utilization, PhD awarded 2018.
  • OU researchers played a part in editing and contributed chapters to a recent book published by ICE Publishing entitled: Energy and Mobility in Smart Cities 

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


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How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Professor William J. Nuttall

Email: Energy Research
Phone: +44 (0)1908 655113

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.