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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

CDT News

Energy Dragons' Den Event at the British Science Festival

(16 September 2013)

PhD students from Durham's Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy (CDT) group ran an interactive energy based activity for GCSE level students at the British Science Festival in Newcastle last week. The session aimed to increase the students’ awareness of the growing energy gap within the UK, highlighting the challenges faced by today’s government and society.

The task was introduced by setting a scene of impending doom; the UK is importing more fuel from foreign sources than ever before in order to cover the gap caused by the decrease in UK indigenous resources. To reduce this gap, the students were split into groups and given £300m to invest in energy resources. They become the Energy Dragons. Each group visited five energy stalls run by CDT students, each vying for their investment. Nuclear energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and biofuels formed the five resources available for investment. The groups’ aim was to invest their money such that the annual energy consumption of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (6000 GWh) could be covered, whilst trying to keep CO2 emissions as low as possible. The Energy Dragons were encouraged to question the stallholders about the pros and cons of each energy resource in order to determine if they wanted to invest in it.

After viewing each energy stall, Energy Dragons discussed how they’d like to invest their money. They were encouraged to think not only about making the numbers work to solve Newcastle’s energy problem, but to also understand the short and long term investment of their money.

The final results showed the Energy Dragons had understood the need to spread their investment widely across all resources, thus achieving the goal of the CDT group.