PhD Studentship Opportunity in The Land Sparing Potential of Vertical Farming to Support Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) Deployment



Studentship description

This is an exciting opportunity to work at the cutting edge of two essential technologies for a low carbon future, vertical farming (VF) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Vertical farming is a way of growing crops indoors in a controlled environment and offers the potential to increase food security. BECCS is a means of providing renewable energy and carbon sequestration to achieve net negative emissions and therefore our wider climate change goal of reducing global warming by less than 1.5°C.

Vertical farming is gaining popularity due to its ability to reduce the land footprint required for cultivating crops. Studies have shown that productivity per unit land area can be increased by 5-10 times. Given the parallel need to increase the amount of land for planting bioenergy to reach our global climate change goals through large-scale deployment of BECCS. VF has the potential to support BECCS deployment.

This PhD will assess the land substitution potential of vertical farming technologies at a global scale. You will explore which crops are currently commercially viable in VF and how field grown crops can be moved into VF production across the world. You will use spatial, technical and socio-economic modelling to assess the transition from field-based agriculture into VF. In collaboration the University of Aberdeen, you will then assess the potential to grown bioenergy crops in these areas where land has been ‘spared’.

Within this high impact project, there will be opportunities to engage with several key commercial stakeholders and policymakers, as well as the chance to present your work at international conferences. We will support development of your research skills as well as a suite of transferable skills including leadership, communication and project management.

Your principal PhD supervisor will be Dr Zoe M Harris.

This is a 3 year project starting in July 2021.

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a First Class or Upper Second Class (2:1) Degree in a relevant scientific discipline (e.g. Environmental Sciences, Biosciences, Geography, Engineering). A Masters level degree would be desirable.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.


For UK students: Fee covered (currently £4,407) and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £15,285).

For EU/International: Fee covered (currently £4,407) and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £15,285). An EU student starting AFTER 1/10/21 will pay international fees. Students will be responsible for the difference between UK fees and International fees. EU students will need a visa after 1/1/21.

Environment and Sustainability PhD

How to apply

Please apply online: BECCS studentship

Interviews will take place the week beginning 19th April 2021

Application enquiries

For application enquiries, please contact Dr Harris by emailing