2015 is the International Year of Light – Sustainable Energy (Part 2)

International Year of LightEvery year the UN chooses one or two themes that are celebrated throughout the year by governments, local organisations, businesses and educational institutions. This year was proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, and focuses on the topic of light science and its applications with the aim of recognising the importance of light-based technologies, promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Additionally, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is Goal 7 of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. In celebration of the International Year of Light, the following week will focus on sustainable energy and feature a range of initiatives and programmes implemented on the topic at universities internationally. To view part 1 of this two part series click here.

Several schools are developing new programmes focused on energy related topics, in particular around sustainable and renewable energies. In the Netherlands, Rotterdam School of Management’s Future Energy Business holds a three day programme which aims to prepare students to not only navigate energy business and its advances such as renewable generation, storage, electric mobility and ongoing ICT innovations, but to shape the energy landscape of the future. Participants gain insights into future energy infrastructures, the dynamics of energy markets and stakeholders, and learn the skills needed to develop compelling, actionable strategies and discuss them with leaders in industry and policy.

Toulouse Business School, in France, has developed a specialised Master’s in Sustainable Development and Climate Change in 2008. The programme is accredited jointly by the National Meteorological School and the National School of Life Sciences. The school also offers training on carbon accounting for students more generally across the school.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Centre for Climate Justice is a key member of a 20 month project called, ‘Scotland Lights Up Malawi,’ which aims to encourage communities in Malawi to replace dangerous and costly kerosene lamps, batteries and candles with environmentally more friendly solar lighting that also helps families reduce expenditures and thus has potential to reduce poverty. The project is partly funded by the Scottish Government and involves GCU in partnership with SolarAid establishing the social enterprise in Malawi called SunnyMoney. The enterprise will promote and sell solar lighting.

There are many ways that students are engaging in the topic of sustainable and renewable energy. Master’s students at Sabanci University, in Turkey, organised a case competition in 2014 to bring creative ideas and multi-cultural insights into organising the first Solar Grand Prix Monaco. Organised by Solar 1, with the support of SAS Prince Albert II in partnership with the Monaco Yacht Club, this event aimed to promote the use of solar power in boats, using innovative ideas from young engineers and entrepreneurs worldwide. The students had to draft a mini business plan, summarising their ideas, views and recommendations on how to successfully build up and organise this first and unique event.

On campus students are also coming together into student clubs on energy sustainability, for example at Athens University of Economics and Business, in Greece. The university’s Energy & Sustainability Club involves both students and alumni to raise awareness, and mobilise students and the broader community through workshops, seminars, conferences and short-term field projects. Students from both Copenhagen Business School and the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark, established the Danish Association for Energy Economics chapter, an affiliate of the International Association for Energy Economics. The chapter aims to gather students, companies and researchers to discuss future energy solutions in order to fill a gap in the energy debate in Denmark. The chapter hosts events related to energy policy, research and business.

Finally, universities are exploring how to be more energy efficient within their own campuses. Ivey Business School, in Canada, is doing a lighting retrofit—a five-year plan to eliminate inefficient lighting on campus. Energy-saving T8 ballasts are replacing nearly 50,000 T12 fixtures that illuminate the rooms and halls in dozens of campus buildings. The project will pay for itself through energy savings in about three years. The new fixtures are estimated to use at least 30 per cent less energy than the previous fixtures. In addition to being more efficient, the new lamps also have a greater quality of light output.

The University of Winchester, in the UK, is a member of the Carbon Trust’s Higher Education Carbon Management programme, and a number of initiatives are in place across the campus to cut their carbon footprint. The Business School is part of the University’s commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per square meter to 30% below the 2006 levels by 2016.

Several universities across Europe take place in the annual European Sustainable Energy Week Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in Italy, uses the opportunity to raise awareness about energy efficiency on its campus. They take part in a campaign called “M’illumino di meno,” which means ‘I am using less light.’ On this day in February, throughout Italy individuals, businesses, monuments turn off their lights as a way of raising awareness about sustainable consumption. Many schools also take part in Earth Hour celebrations (which next year will be on the 19th of March) where millions around the world turn off their lights for one hour as a way to raise awareness about climate change.

One Response to 2015 is the International Year of Light – Sustainable Energy (Part 2)

  1. Thanks for the interesting read! It’s great that the UN decided to choose light as the theme for sustainable energy to focus on. There seems to have been many advances in the development of solar energy and light based technology. Putting more focus on studying and developing sustainable energy around solar power, and other light technologies would lead to more technological advances. I’m excited to see what researchers have found in their studies in the next global summit.

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