BES vs COVID: Taking Energy Online!
Although this past year has been very difficult for us as a society to continue growing our impact, we have adapted by offering a number of exciting online talks and launched a new campaign to reduce energy consumption within University and partner-owned accommodation. We will not be stopped!
Birmingham Energy Society (BES) offers the opportunity to discuss and learn about a wide range of areas within the energy sector, including but not limited to markets, policy, technology and sustainability. We accommodate this through regular talks from internal and external speakers that we feel our members would find the most interesting, in conjunction with exciting trips! We also offer the chance for students to build their network within the energy industry through our socials, as well as specialised networking events.
Before term had even started BES held a speed-networking event. In collaboration with Grace Surman from the EPS Alumni Office, we welcomed recent graduates working in the energy sector to talk about what they are doing now and how they got there. This online event was a great way for members to network with graduates currently working in roles they might apply to in the coming year.
We kicked off the semester with a talk from Professor Martin Freer, which covered the future challenges in the decarbonisation of the UK energy system. Professor Freer gave a detailed overview of how the UK will adapt in the coming years as we transition towards energy that is more sustainable in the long term, as well as some of the key challenges associated with this transition. We welcomed back Prof Freer a few weeks later where he engaged in discussions around the topic of decarbonisation with our members.
Next, Mark Phelpstead from AECOM spoke about potential approaches for the decarbonisation of buildings in the UK. With buildings accounting for 30% of all UK emissions, a real impact could be made if some of the measures outlined in the talk were implemented. The talk also covered case study examples where decarbonisation measures have already been incorporated into UK buildings.
Keith Budden, Head of Business at Cenex (an independent organisation specialising in Low Carbon and Fuel Cells Centre of Excellence) joined us to talk about the transition to low carbon in the transport sector. Keith discussed the alternative to current Internal Combustion Engine vehicles and barriers that need to be overcome to enable the future of low carbon transport.
Environmental Economist Professor Robert Elliot delivered a presentation of the economic and geospatial take on recycling electric vehicle (EV) Li-ion batteries in the UK. With the sale of EVs increasing waste batteries will increase, but what will be done with the waste? Rob explained the different scenarios for recycling EV batteries in the UK and the physical and economic barriers that will need to be overcome to do so.
For our penultimate event we invited back David Horsfall, Property Director of Webster and Horsfall Group and Director of Tyseley Energy Park (TEP) who talked about the work being done at TEP. David explained the work happening on site and future plans that will allow TEP to tackle challenges such as poor air quality and delivery of clean energy and transport fuel.
The final event of the term welcomed four Birmingham graduates to talk about the graduate and placement opportunities available from ATOS (an IT and consulting company). They offered tips on applications and how to succeed in interviews and assessment centres. We look forward to welcoming back ATOS next term to talk about their work around the ‘Green Network’.
If you missed the first four talks and would like to watch them, please see our website where we have posted the recordings https://birminghamenergyso.wixsite.com/home/vidoe-resources
This year saw the launch of our campaign to reduce energy consumption within University and partner-owned accommodation, with the aim of not just aiding students in how to minimise their own carbon footprint, but also educate and instil habits which will contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. To date, this has seen BES be responsible for the placement of a ‘Turn me off!’ sticker in 7,500 fresher welcome packages, with the purpose of reminding students to always switch off the lights when not in use and also providing a QR code which leads to our blog with further energy-saving tips! We’ve also liaised with the University’s Environmental Services team to procure around 550 shower timers, which will be distributed to students in shared-bathroom accommodation sites as soon as it is COVID safe to do so. Currently, we are also working on a poster campaign alongside Plastic-Free UoB with energy-saving and sustainability tips to distribute to students.
In terms of other campaigns, we have continued the UoBe Smart Campaign from last year, which promotes the installation of smart meters in privately-owned student accommodation. However, implications related to COVID has limited the success of this campaign this term, although we still hope to progress next term.
Thank you to all our members who attended our events and helped to make our term so successful, we look forward to hosting more events for you next term!
Nandini, Freddy and Max
President, Vice-President and Events and Campaigns Director of Birmingham Energy Society
To find out more about Birmingham Energy Society visit their website www.birmingham.ac.uk/eps/energysoc.
There are 42 student groups associated with the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. To learn more about their projects and activities head to www.birmingham.ac.uk/eps-societies.