YEREVAN — The American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a public lecture and workshop titled “Towards 100% Renewable Energy” with 45 participants on Thursday, June 1, 2017. The keynote speaker, Ms. Veronica Rocha, was Renewable Energy Branch Manager for the Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) from the United States. Her office has been charged with enabling the State of Hawaii reach 100% renewable electricity generation by the year 2045.
Opening remarks were made by Alen Amirkhanian, Director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, who presented major initiatives that are currently underway at AUA in the field of sustainable energy, as well as presenting the academic programs and courses which are set to begin in the upcoming months, including a new graduate degree specialization called Sustainable Operations and Resource Management (SORM) which will start in Fall 2017. Afterwards, Prof. Aram Gevorgyan, Deputy Director of the Energetics and Electrotechnical Institute at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA), presented the new Masters Study program currently being developed at NPUA, which will be called Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving Technologies. AUA’s graduate degree specialization and NPUA’s Master program are being developed within the frameworks of the Erasmus+ Master Degree in Innovative Technologies in Energy Efficient Buildings for Russian & Armenian Universities and Stakeholders – «MARUEEB» Project.
Ms. Nune Sakanyan, an alumna of the U.S. Department of States’ Professional Fellows Program (PFP), then concluded the opening remarks by presenting her fellowship experience in the HSEO, where she conducted research under the “Kalaeloa Energy System Redevelopment Options Including Advanced Micro-grids” project, as well as discussing the overall benefits and outcomes of participating in the PFP. This event, which is also part of PFP, aims to raise awareness among students and young leaders about advantages of transition toward greener economic growth and inspire youth to become clean energy advocates by sharing information about innovative initiatives, existing policies that support to reaching higher goals.
The opening remarks were followed by a lecture by Ms. Rocha, who discussed several topics, including the rationale behind taking the decision of having 100% electricity generation from renewable resources in Hawaii by 2045, her experiences and ongoing challenges towards meeting such an ambitious target, the role of innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as the possibility of adopting similar approaches in Armenia. Following the lecture, the participants were divided into two parallel breakout sessions, in the first session, the participants brainstormed on the role of entrepreneurs in achieving 100% renewable energy, whereas in the second session, the participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of generating 100% renewable energy in Armenia. After the breakout sessions, the two groups shared and discussed their outcomes with Ms. Rocha, who provided her feedback, including pointing out some of the similarities in the challenges facing Armenia and Hawaii in achieving 100% electricity generation from renewable sources.
The event concluded with a tour of AUA’s facilities, including a tour of the solar energy facilities at the university, led by Prof. Artak Hambarian, as well as the AUA Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) led by its of Operations, Mr. Aram Keryan.
Following the event, Ms. Rocha stated, “I was impressed by the passionate dialogue from the breakout session participants as they envisioned and debated Armenia’s path towards greater energy independence and adoption of clean energy. I was pleased to see that Hawaii’s story toward achieving 100% renewable energy could prove as a catalyst for these rich conversations in Armenia.” The event was jointly organized by the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, AUA Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC), National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA), and the U.S. Department of States’ Professional Fellows Program (PFP) alumna Nune Sakanyan within the “Renewable Energy is the key to Energy independence and economic development” project, which aims to exchange knowledge on energy sector policies, strategies, projects and initiatives.