Friday, October 30, 2015

UQ PhD student receives top honours for sustainable energy solutions

A University of Queensland PhD student who is investigating sustainable energy solutions for developing communities has secured a prestigious fellowship from the American Australian Association.

Matthew Herington from UQ’s Energy Initiative will collaborate with researchers at Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL) to look at ways of overcoming energy poverty.

UQ Environmental Sciences
Matthew Herington (Photo credit: UQ)

Mr Herington said 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity and a further 2.9 billion people continue to use traditional fuels for light, and heating and cooking such as wood, animal dung, coal and crop residue.

“Using these traditional means to attain the most basic of human needs results in a number of significant problems—contributing to four million premature deaths each year, lifelong disabilities, deforestation, gender inequality and income poverty,” he said.

“Furthermore, time spent gathering wood for fuel means less time is available for more productive activities such as education or income generation, particularly for women who typically carry this burden.

“The benefits of achieving universal access to the energy services that sustain modern life are broad and transformational.”

Mr Herington said despite global efforts, progress to provide communities in developing countries with modern energy services has been slow, with many projects failing to deliver sustained and meaningful outcomes.

“Reasons for such failures are often investigated, with projects and initiatives reviewed to ask why these have seemingly failed, but very few explore the motivations and the behaviours of individuals who succeed in making a sustainable shift in their energy choices,” he said.

About the UQ Energy Initiative

The UQ Energy Initiative was established in 2011 to integrate UQ’s strengths and diversity in energy research, and is under the directorship of Professor Chris Greig. With many government and industry partners, UQ is uniquely placed to understand and address the challenges ahead. UQ’s breadth of experience ranges from engineering, material sciences and mining research, to social policy, economics, and environment. This aligns with the specific challenges facing Australia with its abundant and cost competitive coal and gas resources and an economy that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

A key focus of the UQ Energy Initiative is to facilitate engagement between the university’s best researchers and leaders in industry and government. The priorities of industry and policy makers need to inform and drive UQ energy research programs to make them as effective as possible.

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