Dr Paul Brockway

Dr Paul Brockway


I joined the University of Leeds in 2015 as Research Fellow, before promotion to Senior Research Fellow in 2017. I was awarded a 5 year EPSRC Early Career Fellowship in 2018

My transition to the area of exergy economics started in 2002 with a 2 year placement with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and later in 2006-2009 I undertook a 3 year distance learning MSc in climate change and sustainability. My background is as a structural engineer, before moving to work in corporate sustainability, especially using a consumption-based approach to carbon accounting. In 2012 I left my consulting background to undertake a full-time PHD in ecological economics, which I completed in 2016.

Research interests

My research is focussed on studying macroeconomic energy-economy interactions, through primarily the lens of exergy analysis. Exergy is considered as 'available energy', and enables the study of the energy conversion chain from primary to final to useful stages - where it is lost in exchange for energy services.

My work spans various energy-economy fields, including societal exergy analysis, energy rebound, the role of (thermodynamic) energy efficiency on economic growth; energy return on investment (EROI).  I work within an network of international researchers in the field of exergy economics, and act as one of the conveners of this network, whcih has an outward facing website here: https://exergyeconomics.wordpress.com/

My current role (2015-2018) is as a UKERC Senior Research Fellow in Energy/Ecological Economics. The UKERC theme 4 http://ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/energy-economy-and-societal-preferences.html- led by by Professor John Barrett at the University of Leeds - is entitled “Energy, Economy and Societal Preferences”. It focuses on interactions between the UK energy system and the UK economy and examines the potential implications for policies, markets and prices and affordability. The theme addresses fundamental questions relevant to energy policy in the UK, such as our ability to achieve a low carbon society in a growing economy where past trends show no absolute decoupling between energy demand and growth. To make informed decisions on energy and climate policy, a detailed understanding of the relationship between energy, the economy, business and innovation and society as a whole is required. Without this understanding, policy could be developed in a vacuum with a poor appreciation of the underlying drivers of energy demand, the relationship between innovation and finance, and the distributional effects of energy policy on society.

My next programme of work (2018-2023) follows the award of a 5 year Early Career EPSRC Fellowship entitled  "Applying thermodynamic laws to the energy-GDP decoupling problem". My fellowship applies thermodynamic laws to examine a national and global problem: how can we decouple primary energy use from economic growth? - i.e reduce energy consumption to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, whilst allowing economies to grow to improve citizen well-being. However, despite wide-scale energy efficiency policies and investment, at the global level no absolute decoupling (energy down, GDP up) has occurred. The vision for the fellowship is a better understanding the role of energy efficiency and energy rebound in the energy-GDP relationship, thereby improving the evidence base for primary energy reduction policies. Studying exergy flows through an economy enables thermodynamic-based quantification of both aggregate energy (exergy) efficiency and energy rebound. The aim of my project is to build on momentum and insights from recent research – including my own – to complete world leading exergybased research into the energy-GDP decoupling problem within an expanded international research network.

Three key research questions are studied:

  • Q1. What is the relationship between energy efficiency and energy rebound?
  • Q2. How much primary energy will we need in the future to meet our energy service demands?
  • Q3. To what extent can we decouple primary energy use from GDP
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Ecological Economics
  • MSc Climate Change and Sustainabilty
  • MEng Engineering Science

Professional memberships

  • International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE)

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Energy and Climate Change Mitigation
  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>