Elphinstone PhD Scholarship in Environmental/Transportation Economics

The Business School (Economics Division), University of Aberdeen, invites applications from prospective PhD students for a fee-waiver Elphinstone PhD Scholarship.

The development and adoption of low carbon vehicles is vitally important if the UK is to achieve its ambitious decarbonisation targets in 2050.  Economic and social factors will have a significant influence on the impact of improvements in low carbon vehicle efficiency on energy demand and hence on overall carbon emissions. This project examines the economic value and impact of improved technology and infrastructure of electrical energy/power delivery for low carbon vehicles. The project consists of the following three complementary tasks.

  • Task 1 analyses the economic costs and carbon emissions associated with different vehicle types which could be developed using the new system for electrical energy and power delivery. It is based on a standard economic cost-benefit analysis framework, and account for environmental costs (e.g., carbon emissions), and other costs (e.g., new infrastructure). The economic analysis will allow an examination of how improvements in particular components and their costs impact overall.  It will also evaluate the potential future cost-competitiveness of any new technology in various metrics (e.g., capital cost, total cost of ownership).
  • The new system for electrical energy and power delivery implies specific new vehicles with new associated characteristics. Task 2 examines how consumers are likely to value the new characteristics, accounting for how individuals’ uncertainty about these new vehicles/characteristics affects their vehicle choices. Consumer valuation of these vehicles and their attributes will ultimately determine their adoption decisions. We will design and implement a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) to elicit individuals’ preferences for vehicle characteristics including those characteristics of new types of vehicles that do not yet exist. Relevant vehicle characteristics include, for example, running costs, performance, refuelling infrastructure availability, health and safety, and CO2 emissions.
  • Task 3 constructs an economic model of the UK vehicle market. This model incorporates users’ vehicle purchase and travel behaviour as well as automakers’ production decisions, based on currently available data sets (e.g., the National Travel Survey) and findings from Tasks 1 and 2 above. The model allows us to simulate how individual users’ and automakers’ decisions result in aggregate, economy-wide changes in various aspects of the vehicle market and utilisation. We will analyse through simulation how the new disruptive technologies and government policy (e.g., regulations, taxes and subsidies) affect overall outcomes, such as how fast the technologies might penetrate into the vehicle market, and how much carbon emissions will be reduced as a result.

This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship.  An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees, whether Home, EU or Overseas. For details of Elphinstone Scholarships, see http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cass/graduate/elphinstone-phd-scholarships-329.php. Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. Applicants are expected to have an MSc in Economics or related disciplines. For further details of the PhD project, and an informal discussion, please contact Dr Takahiko Kiso (tkiso@abdn.ac.uk). Please also register your interest with the Graduate School Administer, Anne-Marie Johnston (a.m.johnston@abdn.ac.uk).

 Closing date for applications: 6th June 2014.