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Research Fellow Socio-economics and Social Science in Bioenergy


Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Salary:  £33,797 per annum
Grade:  Grade 08
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (31/10/2022)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Monday 14 June 2021
Interview Date:  Thursday 24 June 2021
Reference:  R210164
Release Date:  Saturday 15 May 2021

The Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute at Aston University seeks applications for a post-doctoral research fellow to carry out socio-economic and social analysis and policy assessment in bioenergy. This position offers the unique opportunity to work in a highly interdisciplinary environment and apply social science in an engineering focused research area.

The postholder will work on two UKRI funded projects:

Socio-economic, social and sustainability assessment of bioenergy systems as a part of Topic Group Systems of the EPSRC/BBSRC funded “Supergen Bioenergy Hub” (SGBH) and socio-economic, social and sustainability assessment of business models for the Straw Innovations rice straw biogas pilot plant in the Philippines as part of the Enhanced Rice Straw Biogas funded by Innovate UK.

The Supergen Bioenergy Hub (SGBH) works with academia, industry, government and societal stakeholders to develop sustainable bioenergy systems that support the UK’s transition to an affordable, resilient, low-carbon energy future. The hub is funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and is part of the wider Supergen Programme. 

Enhanced Rice Straw Biogas is funded by Innovate UK under the Energy Catalyst programme (round 7). The project is based around an existing biogas pilot plant run by Straw Innovations Ltd that utilises rice straw to produce biogas for local energy use. It is the first-of-its-kind facility in the world and provides solutions for sustainable straw management and energy access. The project is a collaboration between Straw Innovations Ltd, University of the Philippines Los Banos and Aston University addressing improved rice harvesting, straw management and biogas production approaches to provide energy for productive uses to the local community in the area of the pilot plant. 

SGBH: The postholder will be responsible for identifying sustainability impacts of the UK’s bioenergy sector in the wider energy system and with interfacing sectors. The postholder will carry out socio-economic and social analysis of the SGH Case Studies by using advanced system assessment methods to analyse network and system dynamics and connections in networks and systems. This will form a key part of the sustainability assessment of the SGBH Case Studies and other potential bioenergy pathways identified during the research and stakeholder engagement activities. The postholder will work closely with colleagues in the TG Systems (in Aston and beyond) to support the wider system and policy assessment of the role of bioenergy in the transition to a low-carbon energy future. The postholder is expected to become a committed member of the SGBH early career researchers network SHARE.

Enhanced Rice Straw Biogas: The postholder will carry out the socio-economic assessment of the project. Depending on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic, this work might include fieldwork in the Philippines (2 to 4 weeks in total). The postholder will carry out interviews and stakeholder engagement with the local community in the pilot plant location. Depending on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic, this will be remotely or in person fieldwork. Then the postholder will be responsible for developing the analytical framework and analyse the gathered data to make recommendations to the commercial project partners and quantify and validate the non-monetized social benefits of the business model. The postholder will be responsible for cooperating and engaging with project partners to support the improvement the related business model of the existing biogas facility in the Philippines to enhance the rice straw biogas production and utilisation from rice straw 

Both projects: The postholder will be responsible for liaising and engaging with project partners, communication and publication of results and engagement with external stakeholders and users of the research.

Knowledge of bioenergy systems, renewable energy policy and sustainability are essential and the postholder is expected to hold a first degree and PhD in a relevant subject. Experience in socio-economic and/or social assessment  and in fieldwork and stakeholder engagement is required. An understanding and aptitude for energy, sustainability, climate change and policy is required. An excellent standard of written and oral communication is essential. A demonstrated track record of independent working, time management and successful delivery of objectives is essential.

Please note: Redeployees will be given priority consideration for vacancies.

Further details:    Job Details     University Information    
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Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

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