Updates Related to New Initiatives and Outreach: UN Initiative on Youth Sustainable Energy Hub

Dynamic engagement in sustainable energy with young citizens of the world today will develop into the strategically designed innovations of tomorrow, and that is why IEEE PES is a founding sponsor of the United Nations Youth Sustainable Energy Hub (YSEH). On November 11, 2020, IEEE PES joined UNIDO and UNICEF to celebrate the successful launch of YSEH, a global platform designed to stimulate youth participation in creating sustainable energy solutions and contribute to the broader goal of increasing access to renewable energy and mitigating climate change globally.

The YSEH stems from a growing spotlight on the clean energy transition in international policy arenas and a commitment among UN member states to include young voices in policy discussions. Because IEEE PES shares the same approach to engagement with youth and cultivating future talent, IEEE PES is a proud and enthusiastic sponsor of the YSEH. Sponsoring an initiative with this reach and magnitude represents a critical step for IEEE PES to foster an engaged and passionate workforce committed to securing a sustainable future.

Zoe Pidgeon of Detroit, Michigan, USA, served on the YSEH Selection Committee, which reviewed over 250 sustainable energy project applications and selected the top 100 to highlight at the YSEH launch event on November 11, 2020. Showcasing 100 youth projects with representation across all continents, the virtual launch was attended by more than 500 people, with 6,000 viewers around the world on Facebook live-stream. This event included an address from IEEE PES Vice President of New Initiatives and Outreach Dr. Shay Bahramirad, who said, “Youth engagement in sustainable energy is crucial to our success in reaching global decarbonization goals and ensuring a future of clean and affordable power.”

Dr. Bahramirad emphasized the importance of research and development of advanced grid technologies to integrate renewable generation and to also address social structural inequities. “Twenty-first-century energy systems cannot be sustainable only in terms of decarbonization. Sustainability must also mean that all communities will have access to and benefit from the transition to clean energy.” Dr. Bahramirad said that the connections among youth fostered by the YSEH will make technological innovation easier to achieve.

The insights, experience, and passion of young professionals in IEEE PES are driving them to inspire a new generation of innovators! The YSEH showcases sustainable energy research, projects, and prototypes from youth-led and youth-related contributors on a worldwide platform. Uniting young leaders at local, national, regional, and global levels signals the exciting possibilities of large-scale change in the energy sector. IEEE PES participated in YSEH events with great enthusiasm, nominating several IEEE PES young professionals to support the YSEH launch and capacity building programs.

Beata Okruta of Chicago, Illinois, USA, gave a presentation at the YSEH’s first capacity building webinar on December 9, 2020, on the engineering challenges of integrating renewable energy sources into the existing grid. Ms. Okruta provided participants with an overview of her work with advanced modeling tools and data analysis, with the goal of inspiring youth participants to start or accelerate their careers in research and product development. This exciting glimpse into Ms. Okruta’s real-world experience included an overview of advanced tools that help determine how much solar generation can safely be interconnected to the current power system without jeopardizing its safe and reliable operation.

Kasia Baranek of Chicago, Illinois, USA, delivered a presentation on career possibilities in STEM, with an emphasis on potential career paths in the energy sector. Ms. Baranek illustrated the advantages of exploring professionalization options through IEEE PES as well as staying true to individual passions while learning more about the world of clean energy and infrastructure.

Capacity building webinars and projects will continue throughout 2021 to highlight the work of young leaders in the energy sector for YSEH’s global audience. The YSEH values involvement from PES members because their expertise illuminates broader energy policy conversations at the UN.  By giving a presentation or volunteering, young IEEE PES members bring deeper meaning to these conversations. This opportunity for alignment between the energy sector and international policy makers is a thriving example of dynamic collaboration to drive transformative change.

All interested IEEE PES members can get involved and help support the YSEH. Please contact Christopher.Barkan@ComEd.com for more information and visit https://youthsehub.org to learn more.

Zoë Pidgeon
IEEE Power and Energy Society