EWB-UK volunteer wins best paper at energy conference

EWB-UK volunteer wins best paper at energy conferenceAn EWB-UK volunteer has been awarded the best paper at the World Renewable Energy Congress (WREC) in Sweden, writes Joe Rowley.

Sam Williamson first became involved with EWB-UK during a yearlong placement in Nepal and is currently in his second year of a PhD in the Electrical Energy Management Group at Bristol University’s Faculty of Engineering.

The paper, which he also presented at the conference in May, won the ‘Hydropower Applications’ category and analyses different criteria that can be used to select the most appropriate pico turbine for a given site.

“I was in the middle of a meeting with my supervisors when I found out about the prize,” he says. “I had just come back to my computer to check some data and there was an email from the conference telling me I had won the best paper.”

He adds:

“I was shocked and my first thought was that the scientific community must have had a bit too much to drink that night – but I hope what they saw was how theoretical and practical ‘real world’ issues could be used to develop a solution.”

Williamson is currently re-writing the paper, which he hopes will be published in the Renewable Energy Journal in the coming months.

Asked what the practical applications of his research could be for organisations on the ground, he says that while the concept of the paper is “not of immediate use for NGOs”, he hopes his criteria will “make people think about the new technology available and how we can use it to implement alternative turbine designs in different locations.”

Williamson started work on selecting a turbine at the end of 2009, and began by looking at the different criteria that was available.  He then worked for the next eight months defining the method for selecting a turbine and assessing the different criteria they could be assessed against.

In August last year he submitted an abstract of his work to the WREC, which was accepted by the reviewers two months later.

Asked about his plans for the future, Williamson says that while he is considering applying for an EWB-UK research bursary in the next couple of years, it has been the non-financial benefits that has benefited him the most.

“With the PhD being involved with EWB-UK, it has helped me to keep my mind focussed on the practical application of the research,” he says. “It has also helped to open up some networking opportunities and students, as well as come up with additional research projects which will aid my research and expand my knowledge base of pico hydro.”

He adds: “Without EWB-UK, these projects would probably not be researched.”

If you would like to learn more about Sam’s research project, a full description can be accessed here.

To read about Sam’s experience at the conference in his own words, Sam’s blog can be accessed here.

For more information about EWB-UK's research bursaries, click here.