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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Pathways for energy resilience on deployed military operations

Climatic events are likely to increase the number of continuous military operations in austere locations, to meet demanding humanitarian aid and conflict resolution missions. The UK Military’s current reliance on fossil fuels and host nation energy infrastructure will continue to contribute to GHG emissions, damaging international credibility in relation to Net Zero obligations, and simultaneously limit logistical flexibility. To address both capability and accountability of deployed energy use, deployments must become more self-sufficient.

This study focusses upon the Royal Air Force (RAF), who have set ambitions to be Net Zero by 2040, providing a foundation for technology innovation and novel approaches to deployed energy infrastructure. In an organisation bound by government policy, public funding, and geopolitical events, it is challenging for RAF leadership to navigate such complex uncertainties and take the necessary steps to transition to alternative approaches to deployed energy.

This research uses an adaptive dynamic pathway methodology to demonstrate to RAF decision-makers how an operational energy strategy can be developed. The approach is flexible to new information to prevent decision paralysis and enable progression towards the creation of an energy resilient and independent operating environment. Using this methodology in a military context demonstrates how climate strategy can be enacted despite significant uncertainty, to guide future actions as implementation points become available.

Drawing upon lessons learned from the US Defence sector and humanitarian aid organisations, a series of actions have been recommended to develop a preferred pathway for the RAF as a demonstration of adaptive planning. The challenges facing the world because of Climate Change are deeply uncertain, which requires novel ways of developing solutions. This research proves adaptive dynamic pathways can be used by the UK Military to develop future proof strategy.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.