The student weekly meetings that became China´s most important renewable energy networking platform…
Back in 2008, very few people would have guessed the magnitude the Beijing Energy Network has acquired today. A spontaneous phenomenon, the energy network started with a group of Phd students doing their research in the well reputed Beida and Tsinghua universities. They would meet once every two weeks to talk about energy and its relationship to economic and environmental issues in China. “The group would meet for dinner to discuss a topic related to renewable energy. Prior to that all of the attendees had some reading to do in the shape of articles and publications that would later be discussed. Many times this data exchange would be used for the thesis writings of the participants…” Says Calvin Queck, BEN´s head coordinator. The meetings started in Gu Lou over hot pot by Julian, the founder, and other 3 members, but as the crew kept getting larger they moved to the Sanlitun area - Beijing´s embassy area, and popular hangout spot for foreigners –.
3 years later and 2400 members, the public has changed a great deal -companies, governmental organizations, news agencies- and with it, so has the format of the gatherings. These come in the form of: presentations, debates and small group discussions generally preceded and followed by wine or beer (probably the key time of the get-togethers, as it is were friendships and alliances are born). “We really wanted to keep the informal spirit of the meetings, as it is under a friendly atmosphere that the best collaborations are born” says one of the coordinators. Interestingly, the meetings were not confined only to these fortnight gatherings, BENERS – that is how they call each other- would set up times and venues via email and google groups. A rudimentary logistics tool that became in time a virtual meeting point where the latest articles and up to date innovations in terms of technology and policy were being exchanged and new projects were born.
Today the Beijing Energy Network has spread to the four corners of the planet… U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Italy… Yes, companies, governmental organizations, students and professors contact the BENERS daily to share information, looking for data, and lately… find potential job candidates! Could we be facing the potential Lindkedin of renewable energy? This does not come as a surprise as Calvin, head coordinator and Global Finance Advisor for Green Peace Asia, met his employer in one of the BEN meetings.
According to BEENERS this success is not justified only behind China´s government promotion of renewable energy, as laid out in the country´s 5 year plan and the subsequent FDI flow, but also on exchange students and visitors going back home and spreading the word.
In this way the Beijing Energy Network provides a platform for long-term relationships in the energy sector translating into a cluster where: potential employees meet employers and vice versa, companies find experts to carry work and explore new niches, students find thesis topics, and everyone interacts with each other to create alliances and exchange information.
“If you want to be plugged in to the energy sector, this is the place to go.” Says Violeta Gonzalez Behar, BENER and director of communications of INBAR (the International Network of Bamboo and Rattan, and only international organization headquartered in China).
“Building a better future for this world through education”.
An initiative as a result of a partnership between The Beijing Energy Network, Ascott China and The Georgian Manor House”.
“China has become an incomparable playing ground for the running of tests and the most interesting experiments concerning renewable energy. Not everyone is aware of this fact. Our objective is to try to push this further, becoming a catalyst to fight climate change through education.” Says Alonso de Gregorio, BENER and representative of The Georgian Manor House in China - a leading European education consultancy company -. He is also writing his thesis in the institute of nuclear and new Energy in Tsinghua Daxue.
The Georgian Manor House´s objective is to improve the curriculums of children, young students, and adults to help them achieve their long-term objectives, whether it is to access a high-ranking school, university or the ideal job. “We represent and have partnerships with over 1000 TOP ranked schools, academies and universities world-wide, and select the best students for them” Says Alonso de Gregorio.
“Being and education consultant I understood the relevance of these gatherings for the future well-being of our society and wanted to sponsor them. For this reason I decided to partner with a service residence company that could understand the importance of this phenomenon and provide the ideal facilities for it to continue growing”. Alonso continues. It is like this that The Beijing Energy Network allied with The Georgian Manor House and Ascott – Asia´s number 1 service residence provider-, transferred last week from their informal venue in Sanlitun to the prestigious Ascott Raffles City facilities in Dong Zhi Men.
When interviewing Karen Jacobo, head of marketing & sales of Ascott in North China she corroborates Alonso´s words. “We understand many of the BENERS are studying wind, electric cars, biomass… They are working together to change the way we live, to make this world a better place. For us it is an honor to host something this important. Therefore being able to contribute and take part in something that will change our future”.
As a result, The Georgian Manor House and Ascott China met together and launched an initiative entitled “Building a better world through education”. This is a social responsibility program that commits to fight climate change and build a better world through the empowerment of the student.
Through various actions and activities such as this one with they commit and intend to work together to contribute to the fighting of climate change. “The Beijing Energy Network is a stepping stone in a new born initiative.” Says Alonso de Gregorio.