Abu Dhabi-UAE: 03 February, 2015 – Members of the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program – an outreach initiative of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology – enjoyed a packed week full of dialogue and inspiration from world leaders such as Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, United Nations Foundation and Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders and pilots of Solar Impulse, at the 8th World Future Energy Summit (WFES) that recently took place during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Calvin addressed YFEL members on the first day with a motivating speech about the important role youth plays in triggering change. She praised Abu Dhabi’s leadership for being a pioneering force in the shift to renewable energy. “Coming to Abu Dhabi has been so encouraging to see what happens when a government sets a course and leads its people and the rest of the world towards energy efficiency.”
Piccard and Borschberg met exclusively with YFEL members to talk about their journey in creating the first entirely solar-powered airplane set to fly around the world in late February from Abu Dhabi.
Borschberg stressed the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to finding innovative solutions and exploring different technologies. “Our team is very diverse and because of this we can bring different ideas together. Through the differences, we can create value,” Borschberg shared. Noting that commercial aviation is responsible for three percent of the carbon emission problem, the pilots said they were hopeful that the clean technology used in their plane will be adopted for use on the ground in other beneficial applications.
Other renowned speakers to visit the YFEL stand included Marie-Jose Nadeau, Chair, World Energy Council; Dr. Vladimir BuloviÄ‡, Associate Dean for Innovation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering and Co-Director Professor of Electrical Engineering; and Dipal C Barau, Founder and Chairman of the Bright Green Energy Foundation (BGEF).
Nadeau gave advice to YFEL members on achieving their goals. “Find what’s passionate for you and do it intensely,” she said. Nadeau believed strongly in the youth of today and encouraged them to find and nurture ambition in their leadership.
Dr. BuloviÄ‡ gave an illuminating presentation on the role of nano-technologies in reducing our energy footprint. He highlighted examples of how nano-technologies are making breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, construction, computing, and energy.
Barau – the first Zayed Future Energy Prize winner in 2009 – shared the achievements of BGEF, which has installed over 100,000 solar home systems in rural Bangladesh. Going beyond just providing the solar panels, BGEF has also taken the assembly and repair of solar accessories to rural areas, creating green jobs for rural women.
“The YFEL stand attracted hundreds of viewers who were eager to listen in on our guest speakers and see previous YFEL members’ innovative projects.” said Zainab Abdul Rahim Al Ali, YFEL Program Manager. “We are looking forward to see the innovative and cutting-edge projects proposed from this year’s members.”
There were six featured research projects developed by students of Masdar Institute – which is an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies – and previous YFEL members displayed at the YFEL stand. Projects highlighted innovative methods for using earth’s renewable resources to combat our growing energy challenges.
Alya Altunaiji showcased her research project which studies how to replicate the camel’s digestive system on a massive scale to be able to turn agricultural waste into a source of renewable energy.
“We are particularly interested in using this technology on waste from date farms, which discard about 30 percent of their produce in the quality control process. That way, we can use not one but two of the UAE’s traditional agricultural staples to produce a single source of clean energy to fuel our bright future, while pioneering a new area of research and contributing to the country’s transformation into a knowledge economy,” Altunaiji shared.
Elham Abdulkareem developed a system for pre-treating seawater before it gets to the desalination plant. “It is my aim to increase the efficiency and sustainability of water desalination plants. In order to meet the UAE’s growing water demands and renewable energy goals, we need to make our desalination plants smarter and less power intensive,” Abdulkareem said.
Fatima E. Al Ali demonstrated a type of microbead that can be used to provide nutrition to the UAE’s arid soils. Al Ali explained the importance of her project: “Agriculture is a crucial component of Abu Dhabi’s goal of diversifying its economy. Through my research, I am hoping to find a solution for UAE’s arid soil conditions, transforming it into a nutrient-rich soil capable of producing food for UAE’s growing population.”
Other featured research projects at the YFEL stand included Rashed Hussain Frazanah’s project, which looks at how to turn UAE’s seaweed into fuel, chemicals and food additives; Saeed Alnofeli’s project which focuses on finding ways to improve and optimize camel race performance; and a team of eight YFEL members – Muna Al Amoodi, Shaikha Al Attas, Azza Al Raisi, Mohammed Rashid Al Ghailani, Ahmed Al Hashmi, Alia Busamra, Asiyah Al Ali, and Hjalmar Nilsonne – who initiated and executed the project that brought 544 kWe photovoltaic solar power project to Rashid Abdullah Omran Hospital, Ras Al Khaimah.
These projects were an inspiration for the newly selected YFEL members, who worked together throughout the summit, sharing information and ideas, to create their own innovative research project proposals, which are to be completed by WFES 2016.
Throughout the summit, YFEL members were engaged in clean technology presentations, energy investment discussions, renewable energy and technology debates and networked with various industry leaders and experts – all of which strengthened the knowledge and expertise of YFEL members. The YFEL members for 2015 number nearly 100 and include talented students and young professionals from the UAE and around the world.