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Master students pitched sustainable energy plan for city in China

Published Oct 09, 2019

Solar panels and wind turbines where production is supported by batteries that store the energy generated. Biogas as fuel, produced from the city's organic waste. But above all, an innovative citizen oriented credit system that promotes a sustainable lifestyle. That was the proposal for a sustainable energy plan for the Chinese city of Meili that masters students from KTH pitched on a visit there in late September.

During their trip to China the students visited a steel company in the city of Meili.

Early autumn, a competitive challenge was organised in the masters’ course Energy Management at KTH. Around 100 students in 16 teams competed to develop a sustainable energy plan for the Chinese city of Meili, east of Shanghai, to be completed by 2040. The winning team were invited to visit the city to pitch their idea to local stakeholders and decision-makers, among them Meili’s mayor and his colleagues.

Students from KTH presenting their sustainable proposal to the Chinese city of Meili.

The team proposed renewable technology solutions such as solar panels and wind turbines where production is supported by batteries that store the energy that´s being generated. They also proposed the introduction of biogas produced from the organic waste of the city as fuel for covering the consumption public buses.

An innovative model that involves the citizens

However, one truly innovative solution in the team’s proposals is a citizen oriented credit system with the purpose to promote a sustainable lifestyle. The system is designed to engage and involve the local residents, who would receive rewards in the form of a digital currency for making sustainability an integral part of their everyday life. For example, rewards can be earned by taking public transportation, using electric car sharing services and buying organically sustainable products. The rewards can then be reinvested in other sustainable products or services.

“The financial engine behind the system is based on public investment and will therefore support positive behaviour that will spread among the citizens and green industries and enterprises,” says Filippo Padovani, one of the students from the course and a member of the winning team.

The other members of the team are: Alishba Ghauri, Diyue Wang, Aynur Motigullin, Francesca Longobardi and Marta D'Angelo.

A visionary and inspiring project

Hatef Madani , teacher of the masters course Energy Management, explains that the proposal is a long-term plan for Meili 2040.

“Usually this kind of projects act as a visionary support which can inspire the city managers to take bolder actions. It would be hard to say that this or that specific action will be made just because of this project. But I am sure the town leaders were inspired to take actions.,” says Madani.

He says that the focus of the challenge of this course was focused on decision-makers and influencers.

“It’s about showing what can be done with energy systems in order to improve the quality of life in cities,” Madani explains.

Challenge driven education

The masters’ course Energy Management is a good example of one of the educational models at KTH, challenge driven education, he says. An educational model where students work together and gain training in communication, analysis and critical thinking. The students learn to solve problems they will encounter during their entire career as engineers and/or managers within the field of technology.

“We begin the course with a major challenge at a city or district level. Then, throughout the semester, we help the students to see how they can use systems thinking and systems analysis to solve the problem,” says Madani.

During their visit to Meili, the students from the winning team also presented their proposal to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a strategic partner of KTH.

Håkan Soold