The Great Energy Challenge

| September 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Global oil and gas company Shell has partnered with National Geographic magazine to launch the Great Energy Challenge, a three-year project designed to change the way the world’s population thinks about and consumes energy. Renowned conservation biologist, Thomas Lovejoy, who holds the Biodiversity Chair at the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, based in Washington, DC, will lead a team of advisors to identify and help develop projects that will literally save the planet.

The challenge has several components, such as the Shell Ecomarathon, involving high school and college students from three continents competing to design the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Students from Universidad Cardenal Herrera’s Idea Ceu Team in Spain, for example, have created an electric/solar combination vehicle shaped like a raindrop, on the premise that falling rain is one of nature’s most efficient means of movement.

The Shell Student Energy Challenge that ran through the month of March 2013 is another component of the Great Energy Challenge. It invited students to produce an infographic (a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge) about energy-related issues. Says one of the judges of the competition, Daniel Kammen from the University of California, Berkeley: “This [competition] provides a fascinating opportunity to evaluate what many of us feel: that we must begin by not only communicating better the risks of neglecting the planet, but also by highlighting the antidotes to our current miserable record of planetary care.”

In a single poster, students were asked to address this question: “By the year 2050, the earth’s population is expected to exceed nine billion people and the demand for energy is expected to triple. What does the global energy mix look like in the year 2050?” Kammen, along with the other judges, commended the students’ wide-ranging approaches to energy creation and conservation – which included the use of solar, wind, nuclear and geothermal power – in the construction of futuristic megacities and urged them to consider options like large-scale hydropower.

The University of Missouri and the Technical University of Crete, Greece, shared first place. Future rounds will focus on entries from Asia, Africa and Australia.

Category: Spring 2013

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