For the tenth time the “Green Talents – International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development” culminated in a festive award ceremony at which the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research honoured the newest 25 awardees for their innovative green ideas from various fields of research and promoted an international exchange.
This year, a high-ranking jury of experts selected 25 up-and-coming researchers from among the 736 applicants from more than 100 countries. For the first time ever, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Ecuador, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and Zambia are among the winners’ countries of origin. The prize comprises one of the treasured tickets to the “Green Talents – International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development.
The Green Talents programme conferred under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja karliczek. The award has been honouring talented researchers since 2009 and provides young scientists with a platform for sharing their views on green concepts to make our world a better place. Pheladi Venda Tlhatlha, 24 from Westenburg, Limpopo conducted her MSc in Environmental Management at the University of Pretoria where her research focused on Renewable Energy Strategies for Energy Poverty Alleviation.
Green Talents visited hotspots of green science in eastern Germany and meeting with sustainability research elite and some of the most Technology, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, the HEINZ-GLAS GmbH & Co. KGaA, the Energieavantgarde Anhalt, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research as well as the Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt/Main. By establishing contacts with the science community and exchanging ideas with its key innovators the awardees will be able to lay the foundations for future cooperation. These efforts are supported by the invitation to return to Germany in 2019 for a fully funded research stay at an institution of their choice.
The 25 Green Talents were honoured during a festive award ceremony attended by representatives of the participating institutions, jury members, embassy representatives and other distinguished guests.
Renewable energy strategies for poverty alleviation
Through her MSc studies in Environmental Management at University of Pretoria, Pheladi Venda Tlhatlha is focusing on understanding the perception of energy in disadvantaged communities and also the reduction of energy poverty. She believes clean energy should be accessible to and affordable for impoverished communities.
In South Africa, where Pheladi grew up, access to energy is challenging and limited for low-income households. She is exploring renewable energy technologies and implementable strategies to overcome these barriers of available energy options.
Energy security demands energy efficiency and reduced expenditure, especially for low-income households. Her approach is to take economic, social and environmental factors into consideration, such as the unemployment rate and power outages in the country. An investigation of the energy sector and the adaption of renewable energy technologies can lead to a positive impact on human well-being, poverty reduction and economic growth. Pheladi’s interdisciplinary research targets geographical and social issues and seeks technological advancement for informal settlements, as well as sustainable alternatives.
Her research project can be divided into two levels of energy services. The first level is direct offering physical access to electricity, while the second level is indirect and targeting access to equipment, such as heaters, stoves and lamps, which should be affordable for and accessible to the end-user. Pheladi aims to work locally to create an impact on the national level. During her work for Greenpeace Africa, Pheladi focused on trends and policies in renewable energy and climate change.
Her personal interest particularly lies in including women in the energy and development sector. During the Green Talents Science Forum she hopes to gain further insights into innovative sustainability fields, as she focuses on reaching developing countries and creating solutions which will have a positive impact on low-income communities in Africa. Her research stay in Germany is important for her professional growth in order to develop her goal of creating affordable renewable energy.
The jury acknowledged the relevance of Pheladi’s research to Germany. One of the key factors of sustainable development is collaboration and innovation. Although access to energy in Germany is rather different to the situation in South Africa, the exchange of research and knowledge will be of benefit to energy conservation efforts in both countries.