Student award recognises talent in the renewables industry

Two students have scooped the Climate Change Thought Leadership Award for outstanding research dissertation projects, which provide innovative solutions to the climate crisis.

The award is run by Privilege Finance, specialist funder of projects which reduce carbon and mitigate against climate change. It identifies exceptionally talented individuals with the potential to drive the renewables industry forwards as they progress through their careers.

Privilege Finance’s CEO, Chris Winward, announced the winners at the World Biogas Expo this week. “Reaching the UK’s net zero target and developing strategies to support this is more important than ever,” he says.

“But to ensure we keep momentum rolling, we need to attract and retain fresh talent into the renewables sector, which is what the Climate Change Thought Leadership Award aims to do.”

Students are split into two categories – those completing a Master’s degree and those completing a PhD. The top scoring projects from each classification win a £1,000 cash prize coupled with networking and mentoring opportunities.

One of the award winners – Queen’s University Belfast PhD student, Aine Anderson – completed a research project looking at the potential for anaerobic digestion (AD) developments in Northern Ireland.

“Aine conducted extensive research for her project, showcasing a clear understanding of the opportunities available for AD,” says Mr Winward.

Also securing the £1,000 cash prize is Master’s student, Natasha Marino, from the University of Bath, for her research into the role played by underground inter-seasonal storage in decarbonising energy in the UK.

Inter-seasonal heat storage allows excess heat from the summer months to be captured and stored for use in the winter months, and the cold air from the winter months to be used for cooling in the summer months.

“Natasha produced an exceptional project on underground energy storage, something which is becoming ever more important as we look for ways to decarbonise the UK’s energy sector,” Mr Winward says.

He adds: “A special thanks goes out to our external judges, Thomas Minter, director at Malaby Biogas, David Hurren, UK CEO at Air Liquide and policy analyst at the Association for Renewable and Clean Technology, Pablo John, for their time and expertise on identifying the award winners.”

Pablo John highlights the quality of both Natasha and Aine’s research. “The research conducted by both students will be pivotal in contributing to renewable energy technology studies.

“The award is fundamental to identify and support new talent in the industry and both Natasha and Aine demonstrated their ability to be key players in the sector going forward,” he adds.

Winners collect their certificates