With the United Nations reporting that 1 in 10 people are still without access to energy worldwide, a team of eight EIT InnoEnergy Master School students wanted to do their part. Passionate about creating energy access for everyone, the team has taken on a challenging mini-grid project in the Philippines for their integrated Project of the Year (iPoY). We spoke with Natasha Witto and Emet Zeitz to hear how the renewable energy project is going and how they can help others do the same!
The “Yuzu Project” team collaborates with Okra Solar, AEIC, and Element Renewables ILAW to design and implement a mini-grid upgrade that introduces new sustainable technologies into the energy mix. The chosen location is the small fishing village of San Isidro. Emet shares, “In 2018, Okra Solar and their partners installed clean electricity (solar PV) in the community for the first time as an initial stage of a much larger electrification project in the Philippines. However, during typhoon season in the Philippines there are many cloudy days, leading to grid blackouts – so there’s a real need to hybridise the grid by adding a secondary source of sustainable electricity. Based on the weather conditions, we chose wind turbines.”
Natasha explains how they plan to fulfil the Yuzu team’s mission to empower energy access throughout the world: “This project isn’t about just one mini-grid or one remote location in desperate need of reliable electricity. The best way to support the deployment of mini-grids in developing regions is to create open-source documentation, where everyone can access the project details, progress, and milestones – to learn from our journey.” They can even get inspired by creative ideas, such as Okra Solar supplying freezers to the community of mostly fishermen. She adds, “The goal is to improve quality of life – and that goes beyond the technical elements!”
The MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems students benefit from engaging projects and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Journey that prepare students to play their part in the clean energy transition ahead. Natasha shares, “We are introduced to the fundamental knowledge and understanding of implementing sustainable energy systems. From the many different renewable energy options to how to size them up for each scenario – and the appropriate type of storage based on the application. And the iPoY, in particular, is giving us valuable project management skills.” Emet adds, “On a project like this, it’s great to apply our technical knowledge in real-life, to help improve people’s life of quality through energy access. It’s a taste of what’s possible when you align your personal goals with what you do for a living, as well creating value in the sustainable energy sector.”
As the team prepares the next steps of procuring the wind turbines, completing an onsite visit and creating workshops for the local community, you can follow their progress and meet the rest of the team here: LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook. On a more personal note, Natasha shares, “My experience at EIT InnoEnergy Master School has made me realise how impactful one can be by pursuing a career in the sustainable energy sector, where energy access is just one of its applications. I hope that each of us will contribute to the energy transition so that we can benefit as many people as possible worldwide.”
If you’re ready to contribute to the energy transition, check out our innovative master’s programmes here!