The Access to Knowledge for Development Center hosted a workshop entitled “International Perspectives on Solar Energy” on September 25 th , 2017 at Oriental Hall in AUC’s downtown Tahrir campus. The workshop invited the distinguished speaker Florian Lennart, Associate Director at LSE Enterprise, for a lecture moderated by Ahmad Zahran, CEO of KarmSolar. The workshop was funded by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and also included a closed-door discussion with the A2K4D team and its affiliated partners.
Lennart shared his experiences of innovation in renewable energy, mobility, and intelligent urban design. Broadly, Lennart’s work addresses questions about the relationship between resources, technology and our worldview. Having promoted renewable energy since the early 1990’s, he argued that the foremost challenge impeding transitions to renewable energies is cognitive. Lennart noted that, “renewable energy is an elegant solution that nature has evolved for us, why can’t humans learn to live off this?”
Nancy Salem, a researcher at A2K4D, presented A2K4D’s solar energy project to gather feedback and ignite discussion. Salem echoed Lennart’s thoughts on the importance of cognitive challenges. She noted that, although many realize the potential for solar energy in Egypt, there is also a lot of unease surrounding data sharing. The workshop agreed that it is necessary to overcome these suspicions in order to facilitate knowledge sharing that can lead to growth.
Lennart also emphasized the connection between energy and transportation, particularly as CO2 emissions rise as a consequence of massive urbanization. In response, Yara Sultan, a researcher at A2K4D, shared the centre’s case study on the Ring Road in Cairo. She noted that this project aims to find innovative ways to gather data on traffic patterns in Cairo which could help inform transportation policy in the future. Lennart applauded this project, arguing that the world must move beyond transportation systems reliant on fossil fuel powered automobiles and instead design cleaner and more optimal systems.
The workshop concluded with plans for A2K4D and Lennart to collaborate on new projects encompassing the themes of renewable energy, mobility, technology, and sustainability.