Evaluating the impact of alternative policy levers and market mechanisms to drive NEM decarbonisation using a Total Systems Cost approach


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Agriculture and Environment, Business and Economics, Engineering and Computing, Science and Mathematics
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Top-up Scholarship
Opening date 15 November 2019
Closing date 1 December 2019

Scholarship description

The National Electricity Market (NEM) is a complex, interdependent system. Government policies (e.g. Renewables Energy Targets, RET) and governance mechanisms (e.g. Energy Security Board and Australian Energy market Operator, AEMO) influence energy system, price and carbon emissions outcomes in ways which are difficult to predict. The Market has no ‘central controller’ or body accountable for delivering a system of “lowest total system cost”, market mechanisms and regulation are the available tools and options that may be used to drive towards a lowest “total system cost” system within some other policy goal (such as decarbonisation).  The situation is further complicated in a real physical system which is inter-linked (between States) and where both Federal and State policies and targets are being set independently.

In this context, a gap in understanding exists of the impact of various policy levers and market mechanisms on the essential elements of a competent electricity generation and distribution system (grid) that is being decarbonised.  It is important to understand the impact of instruments like energy certificates, carbon price, inertia markets and frequency response mandates on the role of future low emissions coal plants.  Understanding the impact of market rules and regulations required to achieve a lowest total system cost outcome is critical to shaping what the ‘rules of a lowest cost NEM’ might need to be.

Although modelling can help determine where to go it is of limited value in saying how to get there, or, in a complex system, what else might happen.

This project will seek to explore policies that can be put in place to achieve the optimal systems modelled and looks at regulation vs markets for grid services necessary to “keep the lights on”. Such policies may have already been suggested as part of historic NEM reviews, or have been suggested in key academic texts or by ‘think-tanks’; or they may already be in place in other jurisdictions.

This project will investigate through system modelling and/or exploring experience analogues jurisdictions:

  • The effectiveness and limitations of a raft of policy levers that can be used to deliver decarbonisation, viz RETs, Carbon price, emission limits, etc.
  • How policy levers could have unintended consequences for grid security and/or total cost.
  • The mechanisms that can be used to deliver grid services at risk.  Which are best regulated and which can be commoditised?

This project will also undertake an international comparison of NEM and South West Interconnected System (SWIS) with other systems undergoing similar transformations.


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

Applications are closed.

Before you apply

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them before applying.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow the link on the upper right of this page. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select the appropriate scholarship type, or select ‘other’ and type in ‘NEMin the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Selection criteria

The ideal candidate would be someone who has:

  • Background and experience with a Total Systems Cost modelling approach within the Australian electricity grid
  • A Masters degree in a relevant field.
  • Electricity industry experience – techno-economics, energy modelling, strategic policy or other relevant areas.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English.
  • Itis unlikely in this specialised field that a PhD candidate will have journal publications, however, some evidence of relevant authored or co-authored technical reports (e.g. consultancy reports) would be advantageous.
Applications are closed.


Professor Andrew Garnett
+61 7 3346 7017
Applications are closed.

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.

Applications are closed.