After a long and hard winter in Waterloo, Ontario, the warmer weather is finally here. As members of the MDP program (Master of Development Practice), we are required to do a field placement in our interested field in the Spring term. With a great interest in energy access in developing countries and some good luck, I got the opportunity to work with the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) located at the University of Waterloo.
The mission of WISE is to conduct original research and develop innovative solutions and policies to help transform energy systems for long-term sustainability. The vision for WISE is simple: to make clean energy accessible and affordable for all. So how does WISE achieve their mission? Given the complexity of the energy issue we are facing today, WISE draws from over 100 experts from dozens of different disciplines spanning engineering, environment, science, applied health studies, math, and the arts. WISE recognizes that the energy issue also involves multiple stakeholders, so they work closely with utilities and the private-sector to ground their work in real world issues. WISE offers their partners the full spectrum of energy R&D, education and training, and commercialization activities.
My main job with WISE is to assist my internship supervisor – Nigel Moore, to compose an OpenAccess Energy Blueprint on the foundation of the OpenAccess Energy Summit, which was held at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, from April 22 to 27, 2016. The ‘OpenAccess initiative’ is underway to establish a platform for the research and development of innovative energy technologies to drive large-scale adoption intended to reach every global citizen. The primary goal is to achieve energy affordability on a global scale. As a result of discussions at the summit, a number of strategies were laid out and were recommended to be implemented, covering topics from supportive financial environments; a diversity of business models; energy equity; energy accountability; network energy-poor communities; to energy education. Due to interest in networking energy-poor communities and making energy education available and appropriate, I was asked to do some further independent studies in these two areas. This would include a literature review and preparation of a policy paper outlining the key issues as identified during the OpenAccess Energy summit, as it relates to the state of access to clean energy services in China, and then contribute to documents and research follow-up.
So far, everything is going pretty well. I have participated in some student group meetings and activities related to the OpenAccess Energy summit, and I kind of finished my first draft of my part of the blueprint. But one thing’s for sure, we have just started, and we still have a long way to go. I hope our blueprint can dig deep into this territory, and that by commencing a phase of impact activities it will create lasting and effective partnerships with like-minded organizations, facilitate exemplary practice, and establish new opportunities for energy-poor communities.
Thanks for reading!
Bojian Zhang is a Master’s Student in Cohort 4 of the Master of Development Practice program. Bojian’s background is in Land Resource Management. His current research interests include socioeconomic development and environment challenges, trade facilitation and financing related to development, international cooperation, international development, and alternative energy sources.