Masdar Institute’s YFEL Program to Organize Course on Energy Systems Design for Rural Development

September 21, 2018

YFEL Members to Attend 10-Day Intensive Course Organized in Collaboration with MIT and Jamyang School in Ladakh Region of India

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 09 May, 2013– Masdar Institute of Science of Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced members of Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) outreach program will attend a 10-day workshop on ‘Energy Access, Ethics and Development’ in the Ladakh region of India.

The intensive field-based course in India’s far northern region on the Himalayas Mountains aims to offer the YFEL members an opportunity to learn skills and methods in energy system design, community participation, and social entrepreneurship that will motivate them to become leaders in expanding energy access. The course is being organized jointly by YFEL, the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT and the Jamyang School in Leh, India.

Heavy rains and avalanches every year cut off key passes in Ladakh, leading to poor connectivity of the region to the rest of India. Currently, plans are afoot to build a tunnel at Zojila to open up Kargil-Leh sector throughout the year. However poor connectivity has led to humble socio-economic conditions, adversely affecting sustainability. The YFEL students will help the community design energy-efficient systems and formulate other socio-development measures.

A team of expert researchers and practitioners specialized in community development, energy technology and social entrepreneurship will deliver the course content and supervise the group projects. The course will have lecture-based modules including ‘Human development and energy poverty (basic introduction)’, ‘Needs assessment and stakeholder analysis’, ‘Microenergy technology options (solar home systems, hybrid mini-grids, etc.)’, ‘Business models for microenergy systems’, ‘Microfinance’, ‘Methods for community participation and capacity building’, and  ‘Social entrepreneurship’.

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The 10-day summer program being offered to YFEL students aims to bring together students and young community leaders interested in learning the designing and implementation of energy access programs that directly impact human development. With the support of the country’s leadership, we bring programs that offer YFEL members an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and strengthen their practical skills for tackling everyday challenges in bringing energy to far-flung areas. We thank our partners at MIT and hope the course will help the members draw up effective programs, sustainable from a technical, economic and social perspective for the benefit of the community in Ladakh.”

A unique aspect of the course is that it will have equal number of international and local Ladakhi participants. The international participants comprise members of the YFEL program and students from MIT.

Dr, Scott Kennedy, Dean of Research, Masdar Institute, said: “The course aims to bring the student YFEL members in touch with the isolated community’s daily challenges in Leh and engage with the elders to obtain clean and green solutions. Such practical experiences adequately equip the students with skills to address concerns in their future professional lives. We hope the Ladakh experience will help the students learn the ground realities in designing and implementing energy projects that can make remote rural areas self-sufficient.”

The course will include a combination of lecture-based content and hands-on projects with an emphasis on designing effective sustainable programs that help economic development. Participants will spend approximately half of their time engaged in field-based activities that may include renewable energy resource assessment, energy needs assessment, community observation and engagement, energy system design and pilot deployment, participatory design exercises, designing and evaluating options productive energy consumption, and evaluating development impacts.

Part of the Masdar Institute’s Outreach program, YFEL offers young professionals and students from the UAE and abroad an opportunity to become more engaged in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges – achieving energy efficiency and tackling climate change. It also aims to bring young professionals closer to government representatives, business leaders and other organizations active in the area of alternative energy and sustainability.