Students from Danish and Californian universities have been keeping themselves busy over the summer. They all just spent three weeks in California attending lectures, visiting companies, working on renewable energy projects and discussing future solutions for the road towards clean energy. I went with them for the opening ‘the Road to 100% Clean Energy Workshop’ and on a few of the visits and tried to figure out what they got out of the summer program and what they might take back home with them.
This year’s Denmark-California Summer Workshop, the fourth of its kind, brought together students from 5 different universities (the Technical University of Denmark, Aalborg University, and University of California in Santa Cruz, Merced, and Davis) and countries such as India, Malaysia, the US, and Denmark. They all came from different backgrounds and with different ideas for how to tackle the challenges of renewable energy systems. The final presentations held at UC Davis reflected this diversity as one group discussed how to build a decentralized residential energy system in a village in rural Tanzania; another how to sustainably preserve the Wharf in Santa Cruz; and the last one focusing on the construction of a new campus building at UC Davis.
Despite this diversity, most of the students came from a technical background. And though all of the final projects – and most of the presentations throughout the program – was about sustainability, the key point was about economic sustainability. There seem to be no doubt that renewable energy is the future, but if you can’t come up with a business model that makes renewable energy economically attractive, there’s no point.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the three final projects presented some very interesting solutions. But for next year’s DK-CA Summer Workshop in Denmark, it might be interesting to include students from across the pond, in business, natural sciences, and so on.
The workshop has been no walkover and the three weeks have been more than packed events. The students had barely time to work on their projects, let alone enjoy the beautiful surroundings of especially UC Santa Cruz. Instead they went through a tightly packed schedule of lectures, presentations and group work at UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis, as well as a long list of company visits including Tesla Motors, Makani Power, Rio Vista Wind Farm, Solyndra, NASA Ames, and many more – all of which obviously impressed and inspired both students, professors, and a certain Innovation Center Denmark intern.
The Denmark-California Summer Workshop has been about getting a little taste of everything that has to do with renewable energy. Students and professors discussed theoretical and practical solutions to international and local scale, and got to meet some of the leading renewable energy players firsthand.
Next year, the summer school will be in Denmark. We will make sure to give you updates on the progress and registration when we get a little closer.