RD20 Summer School, Grenoble

20 Jul 2023

The first RD20 summer school, organised as part of the RD20 initiative, an alliance of R&D institutes from G20 members, saw over 50 early career researchers representing 14 countries and the European Commission gather in Prapoutel in the French Alps from 2 to 7 July 2023. They were accompanied by experts on key energy supply technologies who were seconded from their host country’s representative energy research organisations to deliver presentations and share knowledge and experience. The initiative was launched by the late Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in 2019 to foster collaboration among research and development organisations from across the G20  in order to accelerate innovation on clean energy technologies and build international partnerships.

With stunning southerly views of the Isere valley and Grenoble from 1,350m above sea level, the ski resort Prapoutel provided an unusual setting for a summer school. Yet it proved to be an ideal location for Tedd Moya Mose, Nduta Njenga, Colin Nolden and Imogen Rattle to participate on behalf of UKERC.

A busy schedule

In the mornings, participants attended a busy schedule of lectures from the panel of experts giving an overview of topics including renewable energy production, energy carriers and storage, hydrogen and fuel cells, carbon capture, life cycle analysis, critical materials, and socio-economic dimensions of the clean energy transition. These were complemented by afternoon lab visits to the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the INES centre on solar research, and, excitingly, the European synchrotron. Ironically, these research organisations account for around a quarter of Grenoble’s electricity demand. The cause, however, is noble: to provide science and technology for tomorrow’s energies. The mix of interactive activities and secluded location made the Summer School an intense but unique experience.

Early career researchers were invited to pitch and present posters of their ongoing work on the first two evenings of the school and, in their free time, all attendees had the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular setting. On the Wednesday afternoon, the organisers, Florence, Abdou, and Bruno arranged a choice of activities including a hike in the French Alps, mountain biking, and ziplining through the forest accompanied by the sound of cowbells. Throughout, staff at the hotel enabled us to sample a variety of French culinary specialities including fondue, andouillette, tartiflette and bulots.

Key outputs

A key output from the summer school was a series of recommendations from early career researchers on topics including the just energy transition, carbon accounting and trading, energy efficiency measures, the circular economy and recycling, life cycle assessments, education and skills, sustainable energy systems, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage. Individual teams worked on these topics across the five days, sometimes late into the night, with help from a team of facilitators from CEA. Summaries and recommendations were presented in a final plenary session. A consolidated output from these discussions will be shared at the next G20 meeting in September 2023 in New Delhi, India and inform discussions of the RD20 group.

A resounding success

As the first RD20 Summer School it can only be described as a resounding success, with various WhatsApp and LinkedIn groups testament to the desire to maintain the collaborative spirit and collective endeavour. Thus, the bar has been set high for next year’s RD20 Summer School which will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, plans for which are already underway. We highly recommend this event as a unique setting to engage with energy researchers, not just from the G20 countries but from all over the world, as the labs and research centres representing their host countries at this event attract talent from far and wide. We feel honoured to have been provided with this unique opportunity to exchange ideas, gain a holistic overview of current developments in R&D and commercialisation of key technologies, and enjoy the best of French hospitality in the most beautiful of settings.

Activities at Propoutel

Activities at Propoutel