Recognition for student’s renewables research

A student from the University of Nottingham wins the inaugural Innovation Award for research into renewable energy from waste or related technologies.

The winner of the award was Sarah Farthing from the University of Nottingham, whose research focused on understanding the feasibility of hydrothermal carbonisation as a treatment for anaerobic digestate.

The award, run by Privilege Finance, celebrates the achievements of students who have investigated new innovations in the sector for their main research project while at university.

Chris Winward, chief commercial officer at Privilege, explains that the award also demonstrates the extensive opportunities available in the sector for talented graduates.

“People graduating and starting a career in renewables now are entering a different landscape to even just twelve months ago. The green recovery is going to require talented individuals who are not afraid to innovate, and as an industry we must make sure we’re creating the right opportunities for the next generation,” he says.

“Personally, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the high calibre of research skills demonstrated in the applications we’ve received for this award, and I very much look forward to meeting the winner and runners-up virtually for the prizegiving and for the mentoring opportunity, which is offered as part of the prize.”

University of Manchester students Miranda Mirzad and George Wells both received runner-up prizes for their dissertations on hydrogen fuel cells. The winning students have each received a cash prize, plus the opportunity to access tailored mentoring with members of the Privilege team.

The final judging panel included experts from the renewables sector.

Dr Kiara Zennaro, head of biogas at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) says:

“The REA was delighted to have been part of the judging panel for Privilege’s Innovation Award. I enjoyed reading the entries and was incredibly impressed by the quality of the research submitted, including renewable hydrogen, improved farm nutrient management and biogas combined with energy from waste technologies. These are brilliant individuals carrying out research in vitally important fields and it is absolutely crucial to nurture these talents.”

Thomas Minter, director at Malaby Biogas says:

“I was very pleased to be part of the judging panel for Privilege’s Innovation Award. As a long-standing member of the AD industry I am acutely aware that the potential it offers to the economy and climate action requires a commitment to future prosperity and expertise. The UK industry is a world leader in many aspects and the R&D process starts with academia and vision. To deliver the vision we want to see we need to nurture talent and develop career paths for aspiring graduates.

“Privilege’s own innovation in establishing this award should act as a beacon in years to come. The depth of talent we saw in the submitted proposals was impressive and the technical detail provided hope for a bright future. I look forward to this award becoming a regular date in the industry’s diary and am glad to be able to support it.”

The 2021 Innovation Award will open for applications in the spring and an application form will be available from: