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Leading the renewable energy revolution

In 2010, researchers in Europe and China worked together to establish the Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy (ICARE) in Wuhan, China – an innovative research, training and education facility that supports efforts to boost renewable energy expertise in the country.

Northumbria University is an important EU partner, providing advanced research and teaching expertise in photovoltaics and electrical power. ICARE is making a significant contribution to the development of renewable energy capacity in the country and was highly rated in the Chinese government’s review of EU-Sino collaborative educational programmes.

China has invested billions in renewable energy in recent years, reducing the country’s dependency on fossil fuels and supporting a global mission to tackle climate change. Their commtment to clean energy has significant implications to the fight against global warming, particularly as China is home to a fifth of the world’s population and represents the second largest economy.

The country has been a global leader in renewable energy for more than a decade and it is now the world’s largest producer and exporter of solar panels and wind turbines. Inevitably, this success has resulted in an ever-increasing need for skilled workers in renewable energy. To help meet demand, in 2010 the European Commission and Chinese authorities partnered to establish the Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy (ICARE) in Wuhan, China.

ICARE provides specialised clean and renewable energy education and professional training activities and serves as a research and consultancy platform that fosters scientific co-operation between leading researchers in Europe and China. Importantly, ICARE offers a two-year double master’s programme in clean and renewable energy, as well as energy science and technology – the first-of-its-kind in a top 20 Chinese university. The structure of the renewable energy course is based on a successful 15-year collaboration on the European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC)’s European Master in Renewable Energy. The programme benefits from the experience of pioneering renewable energy research at Northumbria University and other key European universities.

The institute is co-ordinated by MINES ParisTech and hosted by Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST). Northumbria University, along with seven other European higher education institutions and two Chinese universities, make up the consortium. Renewable energy researchers within Northumbria University’s Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering (MPEE) department provide cutting-edge research and teaching expertise in photovoltaics and electrical power.

Dr Ian Forbes, a reader in MPEE, is proud of Northumbria University’s role in making ICARE a success: “ICARE was the first international EU/China initiative in this field and provides educational development, academic exchange and interaction, as well as a basis for future collaborative research,” he says. “It is of great importance that high quality postgraduate education is available to Chinese students to supply and inform their growing economy and future expansion of their (renewable) energy demand.” Hundreds of highly qualified students have graduated from the ICARE master’s programme, helping to close the skills gap in renewable energy in China.

ICARE is making a valuable contribution to the increase in renewable energy professionals in China and its master’s course was highly rated in the Chinese government’s review of EU-Sino collaborative educational programmes. HUST has now adopted the ICARE programme and will soon operate and deliver it in collaboration with European ICARE partners. Further plans include the development of advanced research opportunities and the incorporation of ICARE delivery into the proposed Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) at HUST.


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