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UKERC 6th Summer School 2010 : University of Warwick, June 2010

Gruppenbild summerschool


Understanding Energy and Pathways to Low-Carbon Living and Resilient Systems

As a PhD student, one can benefit from participating at international conferences and special summer schools for PhDs. UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre, Imperial College) offers one of the most privileged, weeklong summer schools for PhD Students. This year, 98 of 300+ applicants were enrolled. Half of these were international students and the rest were from the UK. There is no charge for enrolled students to attend the School. UKERC provided accommodation, all of the meals and materials for activities. The School was conducted in English, and as it is highly interactive, a good standard of comprehensive and spoken English is essential.

The University of Warwick hosted the conference in the Scarman House, which was awarded by Meetings and Incentive Travel (M&IT) many times for being an optimal location for conferences.

The School has been specifically designed to give first and second year PhD students an understanding of energy systems as a whole and of pathways to low-carbon and resilient energy systems. The applications are engaged mostly in energy-related research including technical, physical, social, economic, environmental and business aspects of energy and energy systems. In this connection, the school offers PhDs an ideal environment for social networking and information exchange. During the summer school students could:


  • Examine the challenge of transition to a low-carbon, resilient and affordable energy system
  • Understand the global commercial, political, innovation and technological challenges in the transition to a low-carbon system
  • Be involved in high-level debates on energy research priorities in a number of key research areas, from demand reduction to future sources of energy
  • Be presented with a number of contrasting international perspectives on energy
  • Have the opportunity to network with key academics and energy research contacts
  • Research, develop, negotiate and agree on a collective vision for a low-carbon energy system and present the work to UKERC
  • Develop and practice professional skills in communication and engagement

A very essential future of the summer school was the fine organization and structure. From the first moment until the adjournment, students had the chance to tackle climate change and its challenges. One of the innovative activities was the so-called ‘Energy Island’ that offered participants a political simulation game of climate change.  Groups of students worked on this throughout the week. In essence, students were presented with a carbon constrained world comprising of three Islands – in fact it was two parallel identical worlds whereby concrete facts about the islands were given in the beginning, so students could base their work on concrete data.

Groups of 16 students were assigned to an Island and were give the task to propose their top five ideas for energy policy, to be recommended to the incumbent world governing body. These ideas had to be practical, thought through and importantly, the students had to negotiate with other Islands for resources, technologies and intellectual property rights. The highlight of the week was the students’ presentations to the world governing body, which was represented by the UKERC Annual Assembly. The activity was facilitated by professional trainers from Vitae, who helped students improve their professional skills. Another highlight of the week was the poster congress. The students had the chance to present their PhD projects in a “fair” and to hold discussions about their projects with experts from academia, energy sector, etc.

The scientific agenda of the Summer School contained many interesting presentations as well. The presentations were held by specialists with different backgrounds. Here is the agenda of the week.



  • Day 1 Sunday 20 June

    14.00   Registration and Refreshments

    15.00   Welcome and Overview of the Week

    15.30   Ice-breaker

    16.00   Group Formation

    16.45   Refreshment Break

    17.15   Introduction to Energy Solutions

    17.45   Creativity Session

    18.30   Break

    19.30   Dinner

  • Day 2 – Monday 21 June

    09.00   Welcome and introduction to UKERC and the

    Summer School

    09.15   Input 1 – Overview of the Energy Sector

                Jim Skea, UKERC

    10.00   Input 2 – International Collaboration

                Peter Taylor, IEA

    10.45   Refreshment Break

    11.15   Energy Solutions collaboration time

    13.00   Lunch

    14.00   Input 3 – Renewable energy

                Terry Surles, Natural Energy Institute

    14.45   Input 4 – CCS

                Sally Benson, GCEF Stanford    

    15.30   Refreshments

    16.00   Presentation Skills

    16.45   Group Review

    18.00   Set-up for Poster Session and Network Fair

    19.00   Dinner

    20.00   Networking Fair



  • Day 3 – Tuesday 22 June

    09.00   Introduction to the Day          

    0915    Energy Solutions        

    11.00   Refreshment Break

    11.30   Input 7 – Energy and development

                Teodoro Sanchez, Practical Action

    12.15   Input 8 – Personal mobility

                Jillian Anable, University of Aberdeen

    13.00   Lunch  

    14.00   Input 6 – Smart grids

                Ian Welch, National Grid

    14.45   Input 5 – Commercial opportunities

                Sebastien Ruiz, EDF

    15.30   Refreshment Break       

    16.30   Masterclasses (4 options)       

    17.30   Free Time

    18.30   Depart for dinner

    19.30   Barbecue         

    20.30   Drum Café


  • Day 4 – Wednesday 23 June

    09.00   Introduction to the Day          

    09.15   Input 9 – Energy efficiency

                Nick Eyre, University of Oxford

    10.00   Input 10 – Industrial energy demand

                Geoff Hammond, University of Bath

    10.45   Refreshment Break

    11.15   Input 11 - International carbon footprint

                John Barrett - SEI

    12.00   Input 12 – Social aspects

                Tom Hargreaves, UEA

    12.45   Lunch  

    13.30   Group Review – Energy Solutions       

    14.45   Refreshment Break

    16.15   Group Review – Energy Solutions

    17.00   Master Class 2 (4 classes)

    18.30   Drinks Reception

    19.30   Dinner


  • Day 5 – Thursday 24 June

    09.00   Introduction to the Day

    09.15   Input 13 - Media treatment

                 Fiona Fox, Science Media Centre TBC

    10.15   Refreshments

    10.30   Group Review/Energy Solutions

    12.30   Lunch  

    13.15   Energy Solutions/Group Review

    14.15   Refreshments  

    14.45   Energy Solutions: Final Preparations

    15.45   Energy Solutions: Rehearsal

    17.00   Summer School Presentations

    19.00   Poster Session and Drinks Reception

    20.30   Dinner and Ceilihd


  • Day 6 – Friday 25 June

    09.30   Energy Solutions Debrief

    10.15   Evaluations

    11.00   Refreshments

    11.15   Closing Activity/Professional Network

    12.00   Closing Remarks

    12.15   Adjourn