A team from Griffith University has tackled the move from fossil-fuels to renewable energy to place inthe Top 7 of the Global Business Challenge(GCB).

Griffith MBA students Les Adams, Wendy Zernike and Erik Malan competed against 98 other teams, representing 38 universities from 14 countries.

The GCB is a graduate business case competition, with the aim of designing ‘sustainable solutions to global problems’.

This year, participants were asked to identify solutions that lower the cost and/or reduce the risks associated with the transition from fossil-fuel based energy to achieving sustainability and reliability from renewable energy sources.

Wendy Zernike said they approached the task by trying to identify one of the biggest road blocks.

“Storage of renewable energy kept popping up as a way to address the intermittency issues that frequently occur with renewable energy inputs such as solar and wind,” she explained.

“We looked at current storage solutions and identified new technology that could be used for long term storage, even season to season, to address this.”

Erik Malan said they decided to focus on a new battery technology that has the potential for long term energy storage without self-discharging, which could help remove the need for backup diesel generators and help communities move 100% to Renewable Energy.

The Griffith MBA team was assisted by graduate mentor Andrew Zaniewski and Professor Evan Douglas, and began working on their entry in February.

“For the last few weeks leading up to submission we were working on the task daily, while maintaining full time jobs and studies, consuming more caffeine than we should have. Many, many nights we were up past1am,” said Mr Malan.

“We wanted to get the video component donebefore I had to leave the country but I ended up working on it while I was flying between Australia and Ireland. I’ll never complain about the size of my desk again – imagine trying to animate using a airplane dinner tray while the person is leaning back!”

Les Adams said the team put in ahuge amount of research to bring up the team’s collective knowledge around the topic brief and then to zero in on the specifics of our chosen idea.

“It feels great to make the finals,” he said.
“We were hopeful but when it came to the crunch of getting the submission over the line, we did have our doubts if we’d make it.”

Ms Zernike said the competition was heartening for the future of the planet, with so many ideas about how to make this transition.

“Now the real work begins!I have learnt so much from my two teammates, who also come from different industries. They are truly amazing and their commitment was unwavering.”

Her thoughts are echoed by Mr Malan.

“It has been a massive learning experience. The way we worked together as a team drawing on each individuals strengths was fantastic.

“What I learned from Wendy and Les will guide me well into the future with any project I undertake,” he said.

Mr Adams added they got to know each other really well under pressure.

“This achievement would not have happened with the right people and I’m very happy to be in this company going into the next round against some stiff competition.”

Griffith MBA Director, Associate Professor Chris Fleming, said the team should be proud of their outstanding result.

“It is particularly pleasing in that the theme for the GBC is the transition away from fossil fuels which aligns so well with the MBA’s core values of responsible leadership and sustainable business practices.”