Award Recognises Rising Student Talent in the Renewables Sector

Two students have won a prestigious Climate Change Thought Leadership Award for their dissertation projects which look at pioneering solutions to climate change.

Specialist anaerobic digestion (AD) and green project funder, Privilege Finance, run the awards each year to identify and nurture future leaders of the renewable energy industry.

Privilege Finance’s chief executive officer, Chris Winward, announced the winners after weeks of careful deliberation by a panel of expert judges.

“With our climate commitments under scrutiny and the world entering a new era of ‘global boiling’, there’s never been a more pressing time to support the future of British renewables,” he said.

“To reach the UK’s net zero target by 2050, we need to attract and retain bright, fresh talent into the sector, which the Climate Change Thought Leadership Award aims to do.”

The students are split into two categories – students completing a Master’s degree; and one for those completing a PhD. The winners from each category win a £1,000 cash prize and a tour of an AD plant, alongside invaluable networking and mentoring opportunities.

The winner from this year’s PhD category – Maryam Dewiandratika from Imperial College London – completed a research project focussing on improving the process by which woody agricultural byproducts like straw is broken down by anaerobic digestion in developing countries.

“By using local materials to increase the effectiveness breaking down agricultural waste products that would otherwise be burnt, Maryam’s research represents the potential for huge carbon savings,” says Mr Winward.

Securing the prize for Master’s students was Jack Baker from the University of Exeter, whose research project compared different domestic shower systems to create a highly efficient wastewater heat recovery mechanism that could be retrofitted in homes across the UK.

“Using the global energy crisis as inspiration, Jack’s project offers the potential for millions of families to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water for their showers, which in turn will reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Mr Winward. 

He adds, “It’s an honour to host these awards. Huge thanks go to our external judges, David Hurren, President of the British Compressed Gases Association, Mark Sommerfeld, deputy director of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, and Thomas Minter, director at Malaby Biogas Ltd, Palisade Real Assets (UK) Ltd and BioticNRG Ltd.”

David Hurren emphasises the merit of both Maryam and Jack’s projects.

“The standard of entries this year was again excellent which made choosing the winners very difficult, but the two winning projects stood out for their levels of enthusiasm, innovation and the real-world impact of their research,” he adds.