A renewable “chiringuito”?

Think of summer and your favourite beach: salty skin, messy hair and long days. Imagine yourself on a hammock with a snack and cold drink, at a beach bar whose owner suddenly starts telling you how it is totally powered by renewable energies that don’t spoil the coastal environment you love so much. Cool, right? Well, some bright students from KIC InnoEnergy’s Master of Science in Renewable Energy have invented exactly that.

Inês Prates, Cyrille Dubois, Albert Graells Vilella, Alessia Accili and Agnes Beviz, along with KIC InnoEnergy Iberia Education Director Josep Bordonau as their project coordinator, won the EDPR University Challenge 2015. This is a competition organised by EDPR and open to students from Spanish universities. Out of the 113 reports submitted, the winning project was an original and unique initiative called “Chiringuito Renovable” (which is Spanish for “Renewable Beach Bar”).

The solution: a renewable beach bar

The team created a “chiringuito” that is completely powered by locally-sourced renewable energies, and is as sustainable as possible in its design and operation. The team members spoke to KIC InnoEnergy about the details of the project and their plans for the future.

Equipo chiringuito renovable

The team (from left): Alessia Accili, Albert Graells Vilella, Agnes Beviz, Cyrille Dubois and Inés Prates.

KIC InnoEnergy: What is the project about?

Renewable Beach Bar Team: This project aims to provide the general public with an example of a working, enjoyable, but at the same time sustainable structure to disprove false ideas about renewables and to explain its advantages.

By attracting people to a popular summer location like a “chiringuito”, visitors will be educated on energy issues from the points of view of the environment, economy and technology. The beach bar will also serve as a communication platform for EDPR to spread its messages and increase its brand awareness. Connected to a website and social media, the bar will tour the coast during the summer to reach an as high as possible number of people and create a ‘buzz’ about its journey.

KIC IE: How did you come up with the idea?

RBBT: The initial idea came from Inês Prates when we were asked to think about a business idea for our RENE master project that could also participate in the EDPR University Challenge. During the RENE Innovation Seminar, we had the chance to meet EDPR Senior Communications Manager, Rafael Solís, who talked about the importance of transmitting a positive image of the renewable energy industry to the public and incorporating more attractive marketing strategies, mainly targeted at a young audience. Based on that, the idea of developing a project that could be used as an effective communication tool for EDPR sounded like a very good option for the university challenge.

KIC IE: Why a chiringuito?

RBBT: It is small and portable so it can be moved around and reach a great number of people. The concept of a beach bar is automatically related to a fun and relaxed atmosphere, so its impact is very likely to be positive. Everyone from the team was excited about the concept, making it easy to start the development of the project. The scope of our project was also wide enough to match our team’s areas of interest and expertise.

From the beginning, we were able to divide the work into exploring the chiringuito’s structural design and energy system (electrical and thermal), as well as developing the project plan, marketing and communications strategy, and financial analysis. We started by doing initial market research on similar businesses and it enabled us to receive feedback from other companies, including Lasal del Varador and NOEM (one of KIC InnoEnergy’s supported start-ups), which was very helpful for the work we developed.

KIC IE:  What is the social value of your project?

RBBT: Renewable Beach Bar is a powerful tool for transmitting the positive contributions of renewable energies to society. The objective is that people visiting it will learn real information about how renewables contribute to a low carbon emissions world, lower energy prices and economic development. Moreover, the power of this idea lies in the fact that the public will be able to personally experience all this knowledge because Chiringuito Renovable is entirely powered by a renewable energy system using different technologies.

KIC IE: How did KIC InnoEnergy support your project?

RBBT: As coordinator of the project, Josep Bordonau offered us advice on how to focus our work and how to make it attractive to EDPR. In addition, during the Innovation Week organised by KIC InnoEnergy in February 2015, we had the opportunity to listen to Rafael Solís talk about product commercialisation and promoting renewables.

When we heard our project made it to the final of the EDPR University Challenge, we contacted Josep to see if we could receive financial support from KIC InnoEnergy to travel to Madrid from our second-year locations (Stockholm, Paris and Lisbon) as well as for accommodation in Madrid the night before the final. We would like to thank KIC InnoEnergy Iberia for their generous support.

KIC IE:  What does this award mean to the team?

RBBT: This award is an important landmark on all of our career trajectories, and we believe that it will open up new opportunities, both for the development of the Chiringuito Renovable and for individual career advancement. The competition has given us clear motivation and a framework within which to develop our project, and we are excited about the opportunities that winning the EDPR project opens up for us in terms of realising our project.

The winning team was awarded a study grant worth 6,000 euros, a sum that will hopefully keep spreading renewable energy benefits among unknown places. Let’s hope that this fantastic idea can soon be realised. From now on, going to the beach won’t only be fun; it will also teach us how to preserve these wonderful landscapes for generations to come.