Innovation centres help to refill Fuel Change Challenge for 2021

Scotland’s innovation centres will be among the organisations setting the challenges for the latest Fuel Change Challenge…and Sprint 1 is well underway.

CENSIS (Centre of Excellence for Sensing, Imaging and the Internet of Things technologies), Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), both based in Glasgow, The Data Lab in Edinburgh and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) based in Hamilton, along with Arcola Energy jointly with Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) and BAE Systems, will all be providing a range of challenges for apprentices to develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry and society.

Fresh from the success of its first ‘Fuel Change Challenge’ – which saw 20 teams of ingenious apprentices progress to take forward their own sustainable projects which will undoubtedly help to transform their industries and help Scotland reach its Net Zero targets – the innovation centres hope their special challenges will inspire even more exceptional creative ideas to address climate change in 2021/22.

And this year’s challenge obviously takes on even more significance with the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow in November.

The Fuel Change Programme welcomes teams from all industries across Scotland – not just construction and engineering – and has already attracted teams from BAE Systems, BAM Nuttall, Booth Welsh, ACS Clothing, SP Energy Networks, Spirit AeroSystems, Scottish Water, AECOM, Larbert High School, Leonardo and Historic Environment Scotland.

The main aim of the project is to hit the target of a low carbon Scotland and create real, practical solutions which can not only be implemented by the partner companies, but potentially be implemented across the world and make a real difference to climate change. Another aim of the challenge project now includes subsequent identification and development of new skills and jobs for the future, which will be needed as a result of the new initiatives that are implemented by industry.

Challenges include:

CENSIS – How do you optimise waste energy generated by whisky distilleries for the benefit of local communities and industries?​

CSIC – How do you insulate over one million Scottish homes in the next 3-5 years in a low carbon and potentially lower cost way?​

PNDC – How do we develop at scale, the impact of Hydrogen, as a means to create energy, for use in homes​, as a means to create energy and also for use in transportation across Scotland?​

The Data Lab – How can we make green energy cheaper and easier to access than traditional fossil fuel energy sources for lower income families and how they can leverage data to measure progress through planning, rollout and optimisation?

Arcola/DERHow can we enable Scotland’s transport vehicles to effectively transition from traditional fuels, to a mix with hydrogen powered vehicles?

BAE Systems How to plan and propose innovative, yet practical ways to upgrade and retrofit their buildings to be lower or Net Zero carbon, while benefitting the local community in Govan.

The next generation will bring a unique practical perspective to solutions, different to many other innovation challenges before, and expert insight into the operations and processes of an organisation and how their ideas could be applied in the real world.

Teams of between four to eight young people, either from an individual employer or comprising of individuals from different employers, are participating from all over the country and from a wide range of sectors and industries.

The challenge will take place over a number of months through a series of three to four week ‘sprints’.

Sprint one started on Monday 26 April and will run till Wednesday 26 May. Teams will be asked to explore all the challenges before making a decision in regards to the one they want to take forward. Sprint two will then take place from Monday 31st May till early July, and will be an opportunity for teams to develop their concepts and present their ideas. Sprint three will take place between August and September and will involve the innovation centres working with teams to help them refine their ideas.

The aim is not to find a sole ‘winner’ but to take forward all ideas worthy of implementation.

David Reid, Chief Executive at Fuel Change, said: “We have been blown away by the response and feedback from the first Fuel Change Challenge and we are now, arguably, even more excited about the one about to start. We are very privileged to have Scotland’s best industry experts from the most important innovation centres and some of our top private companies providing the challenges for our MAs. We can’t wait to see them put their thinking caps on and come up with low carbon and sustainable solutions to many of our most pressing problems. We are excited to see what they will come up with and we know they will not disappoint.”

Viktoryia Parkhamovich, a Modern Apprentice with General Electric Caledonian, Prestwick (GE Caledonian), worked on last year’s Fuel Change Challenge developing and idea around the remarkable CO2 absorption qualities of seaweed. She said: “Our idea could potentially make a difference to the world and our excitement levels are over the moon. My message to the next cohort of Fuel Change apprentices would be to go for it, think outside the box and do everything possible to prove it can be done. Our Fuel Change idea started as a dream and if you have the opportunity to do it you will love it!”