Today we would like to introduce to you the first team from South Africa – researchers from the University of Pretoria. A lovely group of 5 very talented young professionals has united Jessika Bohlmann (Phd Candidate, Research Assistant), Jacobus Nel (PhD Student), Alanda Venter (PhD Student), Ashley Gandy (Masters Student) led by Vanessa Ndlovu (PhD Candidate).

The University of Pretoria (UP) was established in 1908 with just four professors and 32 students. Today, it is one of the largest research universities in South Africa. UP has transformed into a dynamic university community of staff and students who come from a range of diverse backgrounds and cultures showcasing South African and global societies.

Where and how did you meеt?  

We are all post-graduate students at the Department of Economics at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. We share the same supervisor, Prof. Roula Inglesi-Lotz who has inspired us to pursue research on Energy Economics.

What are your general interests?

In general, we are interested in energy economics, and the impact that for example, access to electricity have on the economy as a whole as well as how moving towards renewable energy affects the economy.

What projects have you already realized?

We are all post-graduate students (Masters and PhD), we have all done research in energy related topics, have published at accredited international journals and have participated at local and international conferences sharing our knowledge in energy economics.

Which rules do you use for distribution of tasks between chambers and for prioritization?

We divide the tasks according to the level of expertise that each team member has with regards to a specific question. Also, via Google Drive we share relevant information (documents, research papers, relevant links) to have each other’s back in answering a specific question and on the writing process.

In your opinion what’s the main principle that makes your teamwork successful?

We are all hard-working individuals and despite the COVID-19 situation that did not allow us to meet face to face, we use technology (Google Drive, Zoom, WhatsApp), to support each other and manage to do great teamwork.

What contribution to your team experience do you hope to get during your work on the BRICS YEA Outlook-2020?

Working on the BRICS YEA Outlook provides us with an environment where young researchers can collaborate and share ideas in the energy field. Participating in this project has helped us in improving our knowledge within the energy field as well as improving our technical skills. Additionally, we hope to learn from the experiences of other teams.

How did you know about the BRICS YEA and the BRICS Youth Energy Outlook-2020?

Our Team Leader, Ms Vanessa Ndlovu, participated in the BRICS YEA Summit and the BRICS Youth Energy Outlook in 2019. She shared her wonderful experience with us and motivated us to form a team to participate in this year’s BRICS YEA Summit and the BRICS Youth Energy Outlook-2020.

In your opinion why is it beneficial for the youth from the BRICS countries to cooperate?

We need to provide opportunities for young researchers to flourish – especially coming from emerging economies such as BRICS – and working on the BRICS YEO provides the right opportunities for cooperation and knowledge sharing. Also, youth plays a key role in shaping the future of the world’s energy path.

How do you evaluate the role of the BRICS YEA in the achieving global sustainable development?

One of the main focuses of the BRICS YEA is the achievement of the SDG’s and the 2030 mission. Therefore, research conducted under the BRICS YEA has potential to influence policymakers in achieving the goals set out in the global SDGs, especially goal 6 (clean water and sanitation), goal 7 (affordable and clean energy), goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and goal 13 (climate action).

In your opinion what challenges the BRICS countries will be facing in the nearest future in the field of energy development? How can the youth face these challenges?

The current COVID pandemic is affecting BRICS countries (and the whole word). COVID-19 has created a global economic recession like no other. This, in the short run, has the potential to affect investment in the energy sector. Youth researchers and scientists have the responsibility to come up with ideas that will influence policymakers in re-starting the economy and promoting the continuation of programs that aim at moving towards a more sustainable future that will allow us to continue the fight against climate change.

Your chosen topic is related to the perspectives of technologies of delivering traditional and Non-traditional renewable energy to consumers. What would you like to place emphasis on during your work?

Given the fact that the South African energy supply mix is still dominated by coal power plants, we would like to emphasize the impact that moving towards non-traditional renewable energy sources would have on the economy and in the livelihood of South African citizens.

In your opinion what is the most promising technology of transporting energy to consumers in South Africa?

The capture and utilization of biogas is most promising technology as it solves two challenges at once, emissions from landfills or other sources as well as mitigating the electricity supply shortfall. South Africa has an abundance of sunlight and there are also opportunities for the country to develop a competitive advantage in solar thermal technologies and establish South African industry and technicians as front-runners in this area of the rapidly expanding international renewable energy sector.

Thanks to the team from the University of Pretoria for sharing their view on youth cooperation, the present and the future of energy sector! We hope that you enjoy the diversity among the BRICS Youth Energy Outlook-2020 Developers as much as we do. It is a great pleasure to learn about different approaches of the teams all over the BRICS countries!