Blog

Blog

Women in the transition to sustainability and climate resilience

Success of climate actions and policies are highly dependent on the inclusion of women in all sectors, policies and policy making. The EU Gender Equality Strategy and EU Green Deal, highlights the policies that differently impacts men and women. It states, “women and men are not equally affected by green policies tackling climate change (there are less possibilities for women as climate refugees), or the clean transition (there are more women in energy poverty)” [1]. Women play a critical role in building sustainable and resilient communities that can adapt to the changing climate. The following points summarizes the importance of women involvement in achieving sustainability:

  • Women are more prone to the climate change impacts due to their socio-economic status. At the same time, they have the knowledge and understanding on adapting to changing physical conditions. Women have demonstrated better leadership in times of natural disasters and crisis.
  • Women have unique knowledge and experience that brings perspectives vital to the effectiveness of climate action.
  • Women representation in national parliaments have led to adoption of stringent climate change policies, leading to lower emissions [2].
  • Women involvement in natural resource management at local level have proven resourceful in improvement of resource governance and conservation [3].
  • Women have major role in food production, preparation, and distribution. Their role is food security is vital. Availability of credits to women investors in agriculture would have significant impacts on sustainable food production and lower carbon emissions.  
  • Women with access to credits and investments in energy sector could be a game changer in transition to green energy. For example, women in Bangladesh have developed wind and flood-resistant housing foundations in their local communities.
  • Women have played major roles in environmental movement. Their attitude towards the nature and safeguarding the environment indicates prioritizing natural resource conservation over exploitation for short-term economic gains.
  • Women are more associated with natural resources, and they have deeper understanding on solutions related to conserving these resources. For example, in two-third of households in the developing countries, women and girls are responsible for collecting water[4].

References:

[1]      A “ glass half full ” : the increasing role of women in the clean energy transition, (2023) 1–6.

[2]      A. Mavisakalyan, Y. Tarverdi, Gender and climate change: Do female parliamentarians make difference?, European Journal of Political Economy. 56 (2019) 151–164.

[3]      U. Nations, H. Commissioner, H. Rights, Analytical study on gender-responsive climate action for the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of women : report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2019.

[4]      U.W. United Nations, Gender , Water and Sanitation, (2015) 3–14.

Photo Credit: https://www.activesustainability.com/sustainable-development/women-fighting-against-climate-change/?_adin=02021864894

ESR7 - Adithya Pai Uppinakudru

Hydrogen Future?

Recently, the concept of hydrogen fuels and its use has gained widespread attention and research. Studies have shown that hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed, produces only water! Hydrogen fuel has the potential to revolutionize the way we power our vehicles and homes. One of the primary benefits of hydrogen fuel is its cleanliness unlike that of fossil fuels which produce harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. This makes it an attractive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. The following article tries to tread the hydrogen fuel science and attempts to provide an overview to this technology.

A green hydrogen future?

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, hydrogen-based fuel is clean. It produces only water and no other gases/solvents when consumed for the application. It has been found to be producible via variety of domestic resources such as natural gas, solar energy, biomass and nuclear power to name a few. Given that it can be produced with on-hand resources, hydrogen fuel is an attractive option for transportation and electricity generation. Hydrogen fuel cells have been found to be much quieter than traditional engines making them ideal for use in cars, buses etc.

Secondly, hydrogen is the lightest element in science and the most abundant. While it is most abundant, it still has to find ground in terms of research and understanding. In 2019, 96% of the hydrogen produced was from fossil fuels. The question from environmentalists and climate activists was – Burning coal to produce a cleaner energy? Sounds a bit anti-climactic, right?

Here is a list of possible methods to produce hydrogen fuel

1. Thermal Processes

This type of process involves mainly steam reforming. Steam reforming is a high-temperature process in which steam reacts with a hydrocarbon fuel to produce hydrogen. Any type of hydrocarbon fuel can be reformed to produce hydrogen. As of 2023, about 95% of all hydrogen fuel is produced by this process.

2. Electrolytic Processes

One of the most commonly spoken about hydrogen production processes is electrolytic process. Water can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen by a process called electrolysis. This process, while it seems easy, takes place in an electrolyzer (reverse fuel cell). It creates hydrogen using water.

3. Solar Driven Processes

Solar driven processes utilize light for production. Very few studies use these kind of processes as they are dependent on a lot of other factors for efficient production. Photobiological processes are one example for a solar driven process. This uses the natural photosynthetic activity of bacteria and green algae to produce hydrogen.

But the question arises, is it safe? Hydrogen on its own is known to be an extremely dangerous and flammable atom. Everywhere hydrogen is being used, there exists a big warning saying “Dangerous, Flammable substance”. Here are some myths and misconceptions that exist about this technology.

Myth : Hydrogen fuel is not safe

Fact: Hydrogen is less flammable than gasoline and its use in vehicles is subject to strict safety standards.

Myth: Hydrogen fuel is expensive

Fact: yes, initial cost of production maybe higher but the cost is expected to decrease as the technology improves

Myth: Hydrogen fuel cells are not efficient

Fact: These cells are more efficient compared to traditional combustion engines (Upto 60% higher).

Myth : Hydrogen fuel is not a proven technology and is still in its experimental phase

Fact: Hydrogen fuel cells have been around for over 50 years and used in a wide range of applications like aerospace, automotive industrial applications.

In conclusion, hydrogen fuel has the potential to play a role in the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable energy future. Although there are still plenty of challenges that need to be overcome before we achieve success. As technology advances and the necessary infrastructure is developed, we may see an increase in the use of hydrogen fuel in the years to come.

References

“Hydrogen Fueling Station Locations” by U.S. Department of Energy. Available at https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html

“The Future of Hydrogen” by International Energy Agency. Available at https://www.iea.org/reports/the-future-of-hydrogen

“Hydrogen Myths” by American Public power Association. Available at https://www.publicpower.org/periodical/article/6-myths-and-facts-about-hydrogen

Uncategorised

My REWATERGY Journey

The REWATERGY Project brought me back to two countries very familiar to me, Ireland and Spain, having lived in each of them at previous points in my life. Firstly, Cork was a city I was very familiar with having lived there to work with a pharmaceutical company in 2013, whilst I had previously lived in Malaga in the South of Spain as a child. Since graduating in 2015, I had a burning desire to get involved in work that I felt contributed real value to the society. At the time of applying for the REWATERGY project, I was particularly enthusiastic about renewable energies but the more I learnt about water scarcity and sanitation, the clearer its importance became and in turn, I ended up pursuing a project in this area.

Cork gave me the opportunity to learn about LED technology. I gained knowledge in lamp design, fabrication, and measurement. I have written a paper on this topic, currently under review for publication. I also used my time in Cork to design a small batch reactor to test the lamp’s ability to disinfect bacteria and viruses for my stint in Spain. Following Cork, I moved to Madrid to work in URJC’s water quality lab. This gave me the opportunity to learn microbiological techniques to follow disinfection of bacteria and viruses. Additionally, the opportunity to live in Madrid was very special. This was a city I had never considered visiting let alone living in and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, making some great friends along the way.

At this stage of the project, I am now writing papers and my thesis from Northern Ireland. The writing process is challenging as it requires patience and discipline to complete a PhD thesis. I’m happy to be back in Ireland but do miss the lifestyle and work I have left behind in Madrid.

Blog

Imposter syndrome in Academia

W

hat is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome was first described in the 1970s by Clance and Imes1, two clinical psychologists that interviewed 150 highly successful women who despite their impressive achievements and professional recognition, reported feeling to be impostors with no internal sense of success. They described this complex as the “impostor phenomenon”.

Imposter syndrome involves unfounded feelings of self-doubt and incompetence, where a person fears being ‘found out’ in their workplace or educational institution, despite his or hers education, experience and accomplishments2. “What am I doing here?”, “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t belong in this place” are common thoughts of people that suffer from the imposter syndrome.

This phenomenon can happen to anyone, but according to Brian Daniel Norton, a psychotherapist and adjunct professor at Columbia University, women, women of colour and the LGBTQ community are most at risk: “When you experience systemic oppression or are directly or indirectly told your whole life that you are less-than or underserving of success and you begin to achieve things in a way that goes against a long-standing narrative in the mind, imposter syndrome will occur”3.

Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?

Meryl Streep

 3-times Oscar winner, 2-times BAFTA winner and 9-times Golden Globe Awards winner

Imposter syndrome in academia, is the struggle real?

Multiple factors can trigger the imposter syndrome within you4, such as:

  • Competitive atmosphere where judgments are made on the basis of your merit;

  • Situations originated from your childhood like being pressured by your parents to do well in school, receiving harsh criticism from your mistakes or being constantly compared to other’s performance;

  • Certain personality traits such as being a person with perfectionistic tendencies.

Indeed, academia is full of high achievers who work in a competitive environment that takes very much into consideration what they have accomplished so far, and probably might be asked questions like: “how many publications do you have?”, “have you received any awards?”, “you don’t have any nature publications yet?”. This constant judgment and comparison with other academics may feel personal. It can often result in anxiety and self-doubt, and can lead to you downplaying your success or believing that whatever you do is never going to be good enough.

Source: https://www.nussocisoc.org/post/a-sociological-take-on-imposter-syndrome

How to beat it?

If you feel yourself experiencing imposter syndrome, this is what you could do5,6:

Break the silence: be open about your feelings and recognise when they emerge. It’s important to talk to those close to you about your concerns to help you get a sense of perspective. You are likely to discover that you are not alone.

Seek support: there may be times when working in a pressurised environment may seem overwhelming, however it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there is always support available to help you to manage these feelings.

Stop comparing: focus on measuring your own achievements instead of holding them up against others’. Turn imposter syndrome on its head: remember that smart, high-achieving people most often deal with imposter syndrome. So, the very fact that you recognize it in yourself says a lot about you.

Remind yourself you’re good at what you do: document your achievements as you go along to challenge any feelings of inadequacy. Be proud of your accomplishments and learn to accept compliments from others.

References

[1] Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. A. (1978). The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, research & practice, 15(3), 241.

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/imposter-syndrome

[3]https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200724-why-imposter-syndrome-hits-women-and-women-of-colour-harder

[4]https://www.enago.com/academy/overcome-imposter-syndrome/#:~:text=Imposter%20syndrome%20is%20a%20feeling,being%20exposed%20as%20a%20fraud.

[5] https://www.imperial.ac.uk/students/success-guide/pgr/professional-development/imposter-syndrome/

[6] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/a-psychologist-explains-how-to-deal-with-imposter-syndrome/

Blog

The REWATERGY EXPERIENCE (Part 4)

Marina Avena Maia

I

n October 2019, I joined the REWATERGY Marie Curie European Industrial Doctorate and it has been an extremely enriching experience so far. I am currently a 3rd year PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and am also gaining experience in the private R&D sector by working at Delft IMP – a start-up company in the Netherlands. One thing that I could have never foreseen is that I would be developing my PhD project during a world pandemic.

Shall we start at the beginning? Well, my first stop at the REWATERGY Programme was at Cambridge, in England. During my undergraduate studies, I lived for one year in Scotland and I still cherish the lovely memories that I have from that time. So naturally, I was looking forward to living again in the United Kingdom and joining this prestigious PhD Programme. Cambridge is a lovely city and I immediately felt at home. I easily became a fan of British humour and the local culture, so adjusting to England was a smooth ride. Regarding my PhD, I worked for one year and a half at the Catalysis and Process Integration group (CAPI). The group, which is led by Dr Laura Torrente-Murciano, is a diverse group of talented researchers from all over the world. The working atmosphere is collaborative and supportive, unless when we are trying to decide whose music playlist we are putting next (spoiler alert: rock solves all the conflicts). Abruptly, after only 4 months of working in the CAPI group the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The University closed for 5 months, so I could not do any experimental work. During that time, I focused on literature review research whilst working from home. After the University re-opened, I felt like I was on an iron-man marathon, but instead of swimming, cycling and running, I was doing experiments, analysis, and data interpretation against the clock. I was extremely worried about the time that I lost during the pandemic. I felt like I was constantly running against time to acquire the most amount of data I could. Pandemic or no pandemic, I guess the PhD is not for the faint-hearted, right?

After one year and a half in Cambridge, I moved to Delft in The Netherlands for my industrial placement at Delft-IMP. It was more challenging to readjust to a new country where I faced problems with immigration, finding accommodation and learning how to cycle on the right lane again. A good trade-off was to discover the delicious apple pie and the stroopwafels, which brought me comfort when I was missing Cambridge, my family and my friends. At Delft-IMP, I learned about the coating processes and deepened my materials science knowledge even more. In December 2022, I will move back to Cambridge and work on finishing my thesis manuscript. I still feel like I am participating in a long iron-man marathon, but this time, with 4 PhD research awards under my belt, I can see the finish line.

Shabila Perveen

M

y early educational journey started in my hometown in the Hunza Valley, and I moved to Pakistan to attain higher education. I arrived in Madrid in October 2019 to join the REWATERGY Project as an early career researcher. Before my arrival, I was full of curiosity about the countries and people I will work with during the three years. I was more excited to start building the foundations of a career in research as an early-stage researcher. For me, it was a start of a life changing experience, in two scientifically advanced countries, Spain, and Ireland.

I completed my initial 18 months at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos Madrid. I started my work by re-learning all the research techniques. I found the research staff and fellows very friendly. Although I had travelled few places before, never had I imagined travelling alone. I took up the opportunity to fulfil my solo travelling dream. I visited new cities in Spain and shared my experience through social media with the online community. Each city inspired me differently, the various forms of art, the diverse culture, the layers of different history, and the taste of locals were reflected in each place I walked through. The coexistence of modern development and the preserved remains of the past was so visible. I was so glad I had the opportunity to learn things outside formal education and my research.

During the Covid period, I utilised my restriction period on learning the Spanish language through online courses. Although I learned the language for basic communication, it gave me great pleasure to be able to communicate and enjoy Spanish television programs. In this period, we received the impacts of the evolving uncertainties and heart-breaking news from all around the World. The moral support from our families, the REWATERGY project, and the professors, friends, and fellows helped a smooth transition to the post-Covid period. This was a realisation that we may live in different countries, with different ways of life, but the problems facing humanity are common. A disaster or a pandemic knows no boundaries. A single country prepared for a disaster is not sufficient to overcome the impacts. Our present and future demands more collective actions than ever before. Therefore, a period in the REWATERGY project taught me life-long lessons, about living in an entirely different country and situations.

With the arrival of Covid vaccine, new hopes were restored, and we were able to resume our laboratory experimental work after three months of closure. At the end of my academic placement, I further faced five months delay in fulfilling the legal procedures to work and travel to Ireland. It could have been difficult but with the regular technical support from the REWATERGY team and EURAXESS Ireland, I was able to continue my industrial placement in Ireland. At the end of my stay in Spain, I got a chance to play in a theatre show, my first performance in Madrid. It was an outstanding opportunity for me to play together with amazing actors from six different countries. In summary, in Spain, I received more support than I expected, made more friends than I anticipated, and learned things beyond the project activities.

I started my industrial placement at ProPhotonix Limited Ireland. Being part of a company was a whole different experience than academia. Although previously, I had only read about laser and UV-LEDs based technologies, at the company I worked around people involved in manufacturing, testing, and delivery of the products to customers from various application areas. This was where I saw the translation of research-generated data into real applications.

The natural beauty of Ireland is breathtaking. The Irish people´s sense of humour is on another level. With a low population, diverse communities, smaller cities, and cozy towns, it took very less time to integrate into the country. During my travel through the country, I explored a whole new world, history, and culture. I realised how limited my knowledge of other cultures had been, this program gave me the opportunity to expand my understanding of diverse social systems. I continue sharing my research findings through international conferences and publications with the research community. Moreover, the nature and beauty of Ireland motivate me to post frequent stories on social media. My work is in progress in Ireland, but I could see I am continuously growing in many ways. The REWATERGY project provided me with an opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

Blog

Gender impact of water resource management

Water crisis has been declared as one of the greatest global risks. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a basic human right. Clean freshwater is essential for a healthy life while figures show that 1.1 billion people have limited access to freshwater resources and water scarcity impacts over 2.7 billion annually. With increasing population and climate change impacts, the water scarcity is predicted to impact over two-third of world´s population by 2025[2]. Furthermore, inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities are reported to cost USD 260 billion worldwide annually[3]. It is estimated that women and girls spend 200 million hours every day collecting water. The UNICEF called it a colossal waste of their valuable time. Access to clean drinking water makes a difference in the lives of people[4]. The situation calls for more actions needed in making clean water and sanitation facilities accessible to all.

The third principle on water in the Dublin Statement states that, “women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water [5].” Water management practices in rural and urban settings differ in many ways while poor water supply and quality has a stronger gender impact. In a rural setting, women and girls are responsible for gathering water for domestic purposes. Poor water management practices directly impact women and girls. Moreover, poor sanitation practices compromise the dignity and personal safety of women and girls. The health, education and economic well-being of girls and women are also negatively impacted. Studies have found that significant inequalities in water, sanitation and hygiene have higher health implications on women and girls, indicating an intersection of water-health nexus with gender[6]. Although women remain the main provider of water resources in households in major parts of the world, their participation in decision making and water resource management are rare. More actions are needed to achieve gender equality in water and sanitation. Gender-sensitive approaches will improve the sustainability of water and sanitation services[7]. Furthermore, it will aid in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDG 3, 5 & 6).

Likewise, in urban centers of developing countries, women and girls are primarily responsible for collecting, managing, and using water at households for domestic chores. These countries have fragile institutions and water infrastructure along with dense population leading to economic constraints. The women and girls in urban centers are equally exposed to the health burden and economic impacts of poor safe water availability as in rural areas. Involvement of women in the water management processes have been found to enhance the process by many folds. A review conducted in 2017 by Deloitte[8] identified few areas for women involvement in water resource management. The needs and preferences of women as primary customers make women involvement in design, operation, and maintenance of water systems valuable. Furthermore, women participation in water utilities, distribution and policy making would require filling the human resource gaps by increasing the number of women in the talent pipeline.

[1] https://the.akdn/en/resources-media/whats-new/press-release/safe-drinking-water-and-sanitation-project-improves-lives-over-200000-people-gilgit

[2] https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity

[3] https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/6/un-women-stresses-role-of-women-in-water-management-at-the-water-for-life-conference

[4] https://www.unicef.org/turkiye/en/node/2156

[5] https://www.gwp.org/contentassets/05190d0c938f47d1b254d6606ec6bb04/dublin-rio-principles.pdf

[6] Pouramin, P., Nagabhatla, N. and Miletto, M., 2020. A systematic review of water and gender interlinkages: Assessing the intersection with health. Frontiers in Water2, p.6.

[7] https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/water-and-gender

[8] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/3267_Thirsty-for-change/DR20_Thirsty%20for%20change2_reprint.pdf

Blog

Renewable Energy: For a Safer Future

T

he Global demand for energy is increasing rapidly, as the world’s population continues to grow. Nonrenewable energy sources are scarce and unsustainable. On the other hand, Renewable energy (RE) sources are environmentally friendly and, unlike fossil fuels, will not deplete.

RE can be sensed in our daily lives. Solar energy can be felt in bright sunlight and the warmth that we feel when the sun’s light shines on our skin. Wind energy can be felt by the movement of tree branches and leaves. Geothermal energy can be felt through hot water pools.

RE is generated from natural sources that are abundant in most parts of the world, which implies that it does not deplete with high consumption. It has a negligible environmental impact when compared to fossil fuels. RE has become an essential component and duty for businesses seeking to achieve sustainable development. Also, the usage of RE is expanding day by day. In 2017, 8% of the world’s electricity was produced using RE; China received a quarter of this amount, and the United States of America, India, and Japan shared a sixth.

RE sources include solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, tidal, and wave energy. The sun generates solar irradiation, which is captured by photovoltaic solar panels. These panels contain cells that absorb sun rays and convert them into consumable energy such as electricity.

The energy that reaches the globe in one hour is higher than the energy utilized by the world in a year, demonstrating the vastness of solar energy (SE). SE is reliable because it depends on the sun, does not contaminate the environment, and provides enough electricity for the location where it is built, and sometimes more.

Wind energy has been used by humans since ancient times. Five thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians made boats driven by the wind. In 200 BC, humans used windmills to grind grain and pump water. Nowadays, Wind turbines are used to generate electricity from the wind. These turbines contain a very tall tower with two or three fan-like blades rotated by the wind. The blades drive the generator located inside the tower and produce electricity. A group of wind turbines is known as wind farms and is found near farmland in narrow mountain passes. Also, in oceans where there is stronger and more steady wind.

Geothermal energy, which is obtained from the heat of the Earth’s interior, is another source of RE. The Earth’s core is located deep beneath the Earth’s surface and has a temperature over 6000°C. Some of the heat from the Earth’s interior can be seen as it floats to the surface. The Earth’s internal heat melts surrounding rocks, and the molten materials seep to the Earth’s surface from volcanoes in the form of lava. It also heats groundwater and transports it to the surface. These water streams are known as hot springs.

Geothermal heat can be acquired in a variety of ways. One of these ways is to employ geothermal heat pumps, in which water pipelines are extended to the building and heated by geothermal energy located beneath the ground. Steam is another application of geothermal energy. Underground steam exists in several parts of the earth and naturally comes to the surface. This steam is directly transmitted to the power plant, but because the soil in some regions of the planet is dry, water is injected underground to make steam.

Biomass energy is also regarded as a RE source. Any substance produced by plants or microbes is referred to as biomass. Plants obtain energy from the sun through photosynthesis. This energy is stored in plants even after they die. As biomass feedstock, manure, trash, and crops such as corn, soybeans, and sugarcane can all be used. This energy is obtained by burning biomasses, which consist of drying wood, compost, and litter, and then burning them to generate heat or electricity. Biofuels can also be made from biomass. This biofuel is blended with gasoline and can be used to power automobiles and trucks. As a result, blended biofuel emits fewer dangerous contaminants than gasoline.

Hydropower is a type of energy that is generated from water sources such as dams, reservoirs, and flowing river water. The turbines move and rotate in response to the passage of water, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. It is also thought to be one of the oldest RE sources used by humans. Initially in grain mills, when hydropower was used to power the mills. It is also one of the most used and vital kinds of RE, accounting for 17% of the total electricity production. It is abundant in China, Brazil, and Canada.

Scientists and engineers are continually attempting to discover new forms of RE, the most important are tidal energy and wave energy. The energy generated by ocean tides is sufficient to generate electricity. The movement of the tides is used to rotate the blades of turbines in projects that profit from this energy. Other projects employ small dams to constantly fill reservoirs at high tide, slowly release water, and spin turbines at low tide.

Wave energy is generated by ocean waves, lakes, or rivers. In wave energy projects, turbines are used. The constant flow of water through these floating pieces of equipment powers turbines and creates electricity.

The primary goal of employing RE is to achieve more environmentally friendly and sustainable development. RE provides various benefits for both individuals and the environment. It remains with the human being on earth. It cannot be drained, the water is continually flowing, the sun shines every day, the mild wind never stops, and the powerful wind is permanent in some locations, providing the planet with an infinite source of energy.

RE is friendly to the environment. They are non-flammable, unlike fossil fuels, and their use helps the globe reduce greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels. These greenhouse gases have contributed to climate catastrophe, forest fires, and accelerated ice melting at the earth’s poles. RE is also safe for humans because it does not produce dangerous pollutants into the environment, lowering the number of diseases spread among people.

The RE advancement, increased efficiency, and dissemination among individuals have led to a low cost of installing and maintaining some of them. For instance, wind and solar power energy generation are less expensive than petroleum gas generation. It also boosts the country’s economy by reducing energy imports or purchases from producing countries.

On the other hand, people in industries have relied on fossil fuels for hundreds of years. The switch to alternative energies is costly and requires major changes to existing systems. So, the transition to RE requires large-scale changes by governments and companies and the provision of support and assistance in providing funds for alternative technologies. Also, some alternative energy technologies are still relatively new and in their early stages and require further research and development, and these sources may be vital for saving energy while using other resources.

As a result, several actions must be taken to ensure the efficient use of renewable energy, including shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy, increasing investments in renewable energy, improving global access to components and raw materials for RE technologies, and making RE technology a global public good. To make RE technology a worldwide public good and available to all, barriers to knowledge exchange and technology transfer, such as intellectual property constraints, must be removed.

References

  1. https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/raising-ambition/renewable-energy
  2. https://youmatter.world/en/definition/definitions-renewable-energy-definition
  3. https://myenergi.com/guides/the-10-advantages-of-using-renewable-energy-in-2021
  4. https://blogs.worldbank.org/es/voices/que-se-necesita-para-profundizar-la-transformacion-de-las-energias-renovables
  5. https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-renewable-energy.php
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032111004497
  7. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/benefits-renewable-energy-use
  8. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/tidal-energy
  9. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/geothermal/
  10. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/hydroelectric-power-water-use?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  11. https://www.irena.org/wind
  12. https://www.energy.gov/eere/bioenergy/bioenergy-basics
  13. https://www.remoteenergy.org/blog/what-is-solar-energy

Blog

European Researcher’s Night 2022: Madrid

S

cience knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminated the world.

Louis Pasteur 


The European Researcher’s night brings science to citizens. This year, myself and Adithya had the chance to attend the event in Madrid. Without the burden of running a stall, we got to play the role of citizens and learn about fields of science outside of our knowledge. 

The event this year offered something for all ages. There were stalls to make magnets, plant seeds, and examine specimens under a microscope. For me, the most interesting exhibition of the night was put on by GlaxoSmithKline. A large branch of GSK’s work is focused on infectious diseases, in particular research into vaccines. The European Researcher’s Night gave attendees the chance to learn more about how vaccines work through a virtual reality headset. The VR demonstration began with the injection of the vaccine into the bloodstream and following it through the many stages to give a patient protection from an infection. 

The experience of the European Researcher’s night in Madrid reaffirmed that science can be communicated in many ways and for any audience. In 2020, I had the chance to attend the SciComm conference in Dublin. The conference highlighted many ways to communicate scientific research, with dance demonstrations, poetry, and even a conga line used to convey information about the researcher’s work. With some creativity and thought for our audience, we as scientists can communicate our research to anyone. 

Blog

ENVIRON Experience ’22

A

ttending conferences and presenting research is a common part of any Doctoral program. This year, I had the opportunity to present my scientific research work at the Environmental Researchers Colloquium (ENVIRON 2022) with all my colleagues in the REWATERGY project. The conference was scheduled between 20th – 22nd June 2022. ENVIRON is a collaboration between the Environmental sciences association of Ireland (ESAI) and Ulster University. This year was titled “Unlocking Sustainability” and had multiple sessions themes involving circular economy and water quality. [1]

Environ Conference Poster

After a short travel from Madrid, I reached Belfast in time for the conference start. The event began with registration at Ulster university in Belfast. The conference offered a few events for Day 1 including a field trip to Giants Causeway and Northern Ireland Science Festival. I was accompanied by a few of my colleagues to the field trip to Giant’s Causeway. The journey and place were stunning and filled with some natural marvels that had me speechless from the moment we reached. The Giant’s Causeway is a declared world heritage site made up of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns as a result of volcanic eruptions.[2]

Field trip to Giant’s Causeway

The field trip involved a guided audio tour of the entire area with a story of the legend of the causeway and an enjoyable lunch with fellow participants at the conference. It was a truly unique and beautiful experience. The day ended with a presentation on “Ireland towards the Net Zero Challenge” by Prof. Neill Hewitt.  The Net Zero challenge is a way for students and researchers to understand the changes that are required on a national and local scale to reach Net Zero Carbon emissions. It also helps understand what social actions can be taken within their own communities to make a difference in this time of uncertainty. [3]

Day 2 of this event had the official opening of ENVIRON 2022 by some highly distinguished dignitaries followed by a plenary session on Climate action and biodiversity by Prof. Jane Stout. This was an eye-opening presentation with some hard facts about how climate change is impacting the flora and fauna across Ireland.

Opening Ceremony at ENVIRON’22

My work had been accepted for both poster and oral presentation. After the plenary session, we proceeded to refreshments and to the area where the posters had been displayed. The session had fellow participants view and quiz the presenters on their work. It was a really great session to make contacts and know more about the work of fellow participants. Throughout the day, participants could attend multiple sessions being held within the main building. We were lucky enough to be present for some fantastic presentations in each session. The day ended with a Prosecco reception and live music followed by the Conference Dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Belfast.

Conference Dinner

The following day, we had our oral presentations and gained a lot of insights from our sessions chairs and participants on our work presented which will surely help us with our work moving forward. The event ended with a prize giving ceremony where my fellow colleagues Marina and Adriana won prizes for their presentations at the conference. The conference was truly one to cherish and remember for the next years! The trip ended with a REWATERGY meeting where we provided an update on our scientific progress to the consortium

Oral Presentation

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.esaiweb.org/environ/

[2] https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway

[3] https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/education/net-zero-challenge

Blog

The REWATERGY EXPERIENCE (part 3)

Adithya Pai Uppinakudru

A

s a non-EU student doing my master in the UK, getting an opportunity to join the REWATERGY programme was one of the best things that could have happened to me soon after finishing my master’s. More than 2 years have passed since I first got the call from the host industrial partner, ProPhotonix, that I had been selected and every day since then has been a journey filled with memories. One whole global pandemic later, here I am writing about my experiences within this project.

I had never been to Ireland and Cork was my first stop in this project. I went in with no expectations and was rewarded to a treat! This was my first long-term job in an industrial environment, and I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing colleagues and supervisors, both in ProPhotonix and URJC, who have guided and supported me every time. Through every step and mistake along the way, I had some amazing friends, within and outside the project, pushing me to keep going. I had the opportunity to explore some parts of Ireland and I only keep wanting to go back again! From long walks along the beautiful River Lee in Cork to watching rugby with the Irish and being speechless seeing the vast landscapes across Gap of Dunloe, it has been an experience of a lifetime. I made some great connections through online conferences, meetings and in the local community.

In the beginning, I was anxious as I knew very little Spanish and struggled with almost everything. Like every new country I had moved to, the struggle for the first few months were worth the memories of the next few. Luckily, my colleagues at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos were very helpful and guided me at every stage. I joined Madrid Cricket club and travelled for games all across Spain with the team, enjoying Paellas and tortillas along the way. Over the years, I have tried a lot of outdoor activities and in Spain, I fell in love with Hiking. I joined a small group of English-speaking hikers living in Madrid, who went of hikes across the beautiful mountains surrounding Madrid every weekend. My hiking guide and a close friend, Phillip from Hiking Madrid, said “mountains are always forgiving after a long week” and I discovered it to be very true. From hiking up the snow-covered peak of Peñalara, the highest peak in Madrid, to hiking through gorging summer heat on top of Monte Abantos, every hike bought with it some amazing friends and memories. Away from the crowd and sounds of busy Madrid, the mountains of Madrid are breath-taking and absolutely marvellous.

I believe that as much as a crowded street says about a city, the true essence of a city comes when it is silent, and I saw the real Madrid on a cold Christmas evening when it was silent and calm all around. Every holiday season, I miss being away from home but on that cold evening, I was greeted by Spanish people wishing me “Feliz Navidad” and was offered to join them for a glass of wine that evening, it truly made me feel like I was one of their own. The cultural diversity and people in Spain have fascinated me and I have been fortunate enough to experience this because of the program.

The experience working on this project has been stressful too, with deadlines and work load going up every month but little memories throughout have made it worth it and I wouldn’t change it for anything! The consortium of people in this project have been very helpful and I only wish we all could meet more often if not for the pandemic. There are a lot of reasons why I would recommend applying for a MSCA project like REWATERGY, but two reasons beat them all, the experience and challenge!

Salem Al-kharabsheh

Being part of the REWATERGY project is one of the great opportunities I have ever got. It developed me at the educational, research, and personal level. During the Ph.D. Journey, the project gave me the chance to live in two different multi-cultural countries involving the United Kingdom and Spain. I have already finished my first settlement at Ulster University in the UK. Currently, I am doing the second part of the project at Aqualia water treatment company in Andalucía, Spain. It is the first time for me to live in Spain and was a dream for me. I am really having a great time in Spain so far.

Usually, everyone has a difficult experience when living abroad such as culture shock. However, the risk of experiencing cultural shock was not the case for me during my settlement in Spain. I found a lot more positives living in Spain than I thought. For me, the most important thing is the people surrounding me. The workers at Aqualia are very friendly with me, once I ask them for some help, they are willing to try to integrate and help me even though I was not speaking Spanish. They really have a great attitude towards life and making the most of it. Additionally, during my time in Andalucía, I meet so many friendly international tourists, that communicate with me either in English or German. Usually, when they know that I am from Jordan, they get excited to know what am doing in Spain. I usually explain to them about the REWATERGY projects which is the reason for my presence in Spain and about my project, which aims to develop a method to treat water.

Moreover, living in Andalucia, Spain is incredible for me with the many beautiful beaches and over 300 days of sun every year. I like the outdoors lifestyle, whether it’s a picnic on the beach in Cadiz, which is 30 min far from me, dining by the sea, or even sometimes setting at the beach and reading or working on my research write-up. Compared to the UK where bad weather often means life indoors, I feel much better getting out.

Moreover, the Spanish food is mostly fresh, seasonal, and has great taste. For me, Mediterranean food is one of the most delicious in the world. Especially, the seafood, where plenty of fresh and different kinds of fishes I found at local shops but national cuisines such as Tapas, Paella are the most delicious dishes. For a simple and healthy lifestyle, I found everything needed in Spain. Thanks to the REWATERGY teams and members for planning such an interesting project with great experience at all levels.