Technical Visit to the Açores

Last week, IST in Lisbon invited the ENTECH and SELECT Master's programs on a technical visit to the gorgeous Açores island of São Miguel off of Portugal. The Açores islands are one of the best sites for geothermal energy in the world, so naturally that is where the visit started. We first went to the headquarters of Electricidade dos Açores (EDA) to hear some presentations from the CEO, Duarte Ponte, and two engineers working there, David Estrela and Fernando Henriques. We were taken to some of the geysers to see the incredible natural boiling water coming from the Earth, which is what was used to cook our lunch! We ate at the Caldeiras Restaurante-Bar after watching them actually cooking our meal in the hot springs (talk about free, clean energy!). The steamed codfish and vegetables were incredible, especially knowing that they were cooked simply by the heat of the Earth's natural resources.

After lunch, we visited the Pico Vermelho geothermal power plant. Dr. Maria da Graça Rangel gave a short presentation on the plant before showing it to us since once we went to the plant, it was quite loud to hear anything. The Pico Vermelho plant of 13 MW combined with four more geothermal plants on the island of 16.6 MW, provide a total power of almost 30 MW of geothermal energy, covering around 35% of the island's electricity needs. It was the first geothermal plant I had ever been to and despite the noise of the high-pressure steam being expelled from four different pipes, it felt very calm and clean to be producing 13 MW of electricity.

We then went to see some breaktaking views at Lagoa do Fogo (literally translated to Lake of Fire), where due to the crazy changing of rain to sun every five minutes, we witnessed a rainbow overlooking this gorgeous lake.

The next day brought us to the Caldeirão thermal plant. Here we were given brief presentations by engineers Egído Oliveira and Crispim Borges da Ponte. Then we strapped on our helmets and ear plugs and got to explore the plant. It was a stark contrast to the quite clean geothermal plant we had visited the day before, with oil covering many equipment parts and the extreme noise drowning out any sound of our voices. In contrast to the mere 13 MW of the Pico Vermelho plant though, this plant provides a whopping 98 MW of power, covering around 54% of the island's electricity needs from just one plant. 
Caldeirão thermal plant

We then had another traditional lunch at the Miroma restaurant, this time various meats and vegetables cooked by geothermal energy and visited the region of Furnas (so-named due to the several geysers, or "furnaces" in this area). The plentiful geysers was a true testament to the energy Earth can provide us with without the need to dig down too deep. After seeing some more incredible viewpoints over pristine lakes, the trip came to an end.

Lagoas das Sete Cidades: Lagoa Verde e Lagoa Azul 

It was an incredible couple of days in São Miguel island. Thank you so much to EDA and the ENTECH and SELECT MScs for sponsoring the technical visit and to all the amazing coordinators and staff at IST for their hard work in planning the trip and being our trusty photographers: Marta Abrantes, Duarte de Mesquita e Sousa, José Alberto Caiado Falcão de Campos, Jorge Matos and José Manuel Vaz Velho Barbosa Marques.

Why students should select MSc SELECT?

Everybody learns for sustaining their life, people who have goals to achieve their dreams as much as they can, expend their life as a respectable citizen of their country. Most of the children around the world suffer lack of education due to proper facilities, resource persons and purity. And again from those existing education system students are suffering from quality which gave useful education other than just theories.The majority of countries teach based on the single side biased approach. Just by focusing technological matter or other areas such as economics, environmental studies, social relationships separately.

After student displace to the society which have to get responsibility of the working sector are growing up to the studies sector, he may feel that unsuccessful of their one side biased education because of the lack of sense of the real world problems. And It is something different than theories and also a mix of all kinds of subject areas.

Pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems, Masters program is a great approach and good example of the qualitative education with real applications rather than just learning theories in the classroom. And also this is good opportunity to get to know and feel international relationships because of the different varieties of student mixture of the program. And feel about their thinking strategies and our position in the international scope.

The program is initiated in Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain (UPC) and Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH). First year continues in those two universities, according to their preference in the application process and students will each other few different locations such as Fall seminar, Spring seminar and ESADE crash course. And after the first semester according to the students’ performances, background and motivation to the specific subject area second year selection will be done to other university except first year university.Sustainable Biomass Processing in Aalto University, Finland (Aalto), Combined Energy Systems in Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (KTH), Offshore Energy Systems in Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal (IST), Solar Systems in Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain (UPC), Innovation in Energy Systems at Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands (TU/e), Energy Efficiency in Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy (PoliTo) and Sustainable Fuels Economy in University of Science and Technology, Poland (AGH) are the specialization subject fields for second year specialization regarding the respected universities. From their second year they can follow a specific path with relevant subject matters, collaborated works such as integrated project of the year and thesis work. And at the end of the program you will be awarded dual masters by both first and second year universities according to their specializations.

The important role of this study program is, this consists with innovation studies with real world project and program studies automatically setup student to the working environment and enhance their social relationships by collaborative works and broad knowledge of technical knowledge and with a good basement of interconnection of social systems, environmental consequences, economics to those relevant technologies. And program intension is to foam new technological business startups rather than working in a company or learning further after the graduation.

Qualitative subject content, higher level of international social and industrial exposure and collaborative work patter of the programs are really good motivations for the students to be a part of the MSc SELECT program rather moving to the other programs. Personally, I have accepted other program somewhat highly based on the technical side at the same time I got accepted by MSc SELECT and I have taken my decision to grab the opportunity to be a part of sustainable education through SELECT.

Exploring energy systems: South Africa

Energy systems around the world have evolved differently, and electricity production in each country is the product of a unique set of problems, circumstances and solutions. Expanding on these different viewpoints helps us to innovate in this field.  I will take this opportunity to shed some ‘light’ on electricity production in South Africa.

South Africa is well-known for many things - sunshine, Table Mountain, Great white sharks, Kruger National Park – but there are a few more interesting things that fly under the radar. One of these things is the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Program (as one can imagine, no one ever says that out loud – it is simply called REI4P), which has actually received much international acclaim in the energy-policy sphere but is still not very well known to the average student studying in the energy field. But before we explore the REI4P, we have to understand the original energy sector.

95% of electricity in South Africa is generated, transmitted and distributed by one public utility: Eskom. Eskom is owned by the South African government, and up until the start of the REI4P, Eskom owned all electricity plants as well as the grid and all associated infrastructure. South Africa has a large reserve of high quality coal, and therefore majority of electricity up until the early 2000s was produced from coal power, with a few additional megawatts of hydro power and pumped storage.

In 2007, electricity demand in South Africa outgrew supply and generation capacity. Rolling blackouts plagued the nation over the next few years, and Eskom implemented a ‘load-shedding’ program in 2014 for scheduled blackout periods across South Africa in order to stabilize the grid. In 2010, government plans were initiated in order to increase the energy mix of South Africa, and most importantly, to bring 17 800 MW of low-carbon energy to the grid by 2030.

Since Eskom owns all the infrastructure to supply electricity but cannot fund all new power plants which are needed to increase capacity and the energy mix, the idea was to have the private sector invest in the energy sector, such that the private sector funds and builds the plants, which produce electricity that is then bought and distributed by Eskom. Given that the South African government also intends to raise the industry and living standards of South African people, these investments are tied to socio-economic development goals.
The REI4P was born from the successful implementation of competitive tenders put forward by the private sector in order to implement utility-scale renewable energy plants that supply electricity to the grid. Basically, it works as follows: 
  • Eskom puts out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a certain capacity of renewable energy (split into different types, example wind or solar PV) and opens the tender for bidding (bid window)
  • The RFP specifies the maximum bidding tariff and minimum socio-economic development contributions
  • Private companies bid on their proposed plant tariffs and socio-economic development objectives
  • The bid winners enter a Private Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the Buyer (Eskom) and can then build their plants whilst also achieving their socio-economic development goals
There have been 4 successful bid windows. As of October 2016, 6 800 MW of RE has been procured, and 1/3 of that is already online. 

Currently, the REI4P has been stalled due to a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that Eskom and some key players in South African government would like to stop buying power from RE plants, and rather build a new nuclear power plant. With RE becoming cheaper each year, this seems to make little financial sense – and the opposition retorts that Eskom only wants to build more nuclear and coal power plants to enhance its control on energy generation and prices thereof. This is born of the reality that Eskom generates, transmits and distributes power itself, and is therefore directly competing with all other generation forms – and as the only Buyer, it will naturally be incentivised to buy power from its own generation methods. Furthermore, Eskom has already invested millions into upgrading current coal power and bringing some new large coal power plants online and there are predictions that by 2030 South Africa will have an oversupply of expensive electricity.

As in every country, energy and politics have become intertwined and the way forward is never clear, but South Africans remain hopeful that the government exercises prudence when making decisions about energy sources: lower energy prices from RE sources could lead to the boost in industry that South Africa needs.
Some fun facts about the REI4P:
  • The first bid window opened in November 2011, the average price for bids was R2.52/kWh (~€0.18/kWh)
  • In bid window 4, the average price for bids was R0.82/kWh (~€0.06/kWh)
  • 1-3% of top line turnover of each IPP agreement is put towards community projects leading to socio-economic upliftment

Loads of interesting information can be found out about the REI4P, and here is the official website. Projects from bid windows 1-4 are shown in this map, with the numbers in the markers defining the bid window, and the colour of the marker defining the type of technology [Source: energy blog, 2016].

[Photo of Dassiesklip Wind Energy Facility by myself, 2016]

Education towards the real world scenarios: WNL project Sri Lanka

Have you ever thought about the real time applications of the knowledge of engineering? I was first inspired by the famous words of the engineer Theodore von Karman, “Scientist explores the world, it as it is and Engineers create the world that never has been”. Since our High School, Bachelor studies and further graduate studies, we are interacting with a number of projects which have higher deep academic content and most of the time which is not applicable to the real world scenarios. MSc SELECT program has changed its path towards applicability and feasibility of the education to the real world scenarios with consideration of economy, environment and social community. Because without feasibility and applicability of the technology and methodology, students who pass out from the degree programs are not worth in the real world.

A project of the year (POY) was introduced by appointing 2016/2017 SELECT first year students to the real problems with the industries and social communities. The Sri Lankan project was done by the collaboration of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), University of Polytechnic de Catalonian, Spain (UPC) and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (KTH) Project is basically to cover energy 3.8 megawatts annual energy demand of the Wijeya Newspapers company (Pvt) Ltd., future expansion of business with 30%-40%, Furthermore the company wishing to move for the power energy sector to cover their consumption of energy and to sell it to the national grid. Main Idea is to analysis of the feasibility studies of the potential of renewable potential for the requirements. Biomass, Solar Photovoltaics and wind potential in Sri Lanka was a parallel analysis as two groups and finally project supervisors’ assets best idea and come up with the common idea to apply integration solution with of biomass, solar photovoltaics and the improvements of the energy efficiency in the printing factory complex area. In this second phase KTH and UPC students were visits 4th of March 2017 to the Sri Lanka for the further studies about the project and few of study visits to the several power plants and useful authorities.

Considering the offset which has landed with prosperous coconut vegetation in the Bingiriya area and the potential of the renewable wind energy was neglected, due to its low potential of the area and one megawatt gasification biomass plant with one megawatt solar PV was proposed by considering the fuel (Dendro) supply chain, solar availability, community, environment and economy. In order to engage community, they have been taken into the part of the fuel supply chain and that will provide a considerable amount of contribution to the social well been and convey a good idea about the technology of the society. The important factor is to achieve challenges without harming environment balance and generate green energy from the renewable which fit into the society and economy by reducing the carbon footprint of the processes. And from the energy efficiency criteria solar roof top PV, HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) optimization with retrofit solutions, compressor piping optimization, compressor load shifting to the off peak time, lighting optimization with considering the natural lighting and printing machineries and printing line optimization was considered. Final analysis of business model will be developed in order to achieve Sri Lanka energy policies and economy towards Sustainable Power Generation and Efficient Process Management for Carbon Neutral Operations of the company.

Grand Challenge Award Ceremony Feb 6 2017 Group 5a (Left: Sachintha Rathnayake,Archishman Bose, Kiran Raj, Akila Fernando,Jialei Xin.Sachini Wimalasiri )

Grand Challenge Award Ceremony Feb 6 2017 Group 5b (Left: Tommaso Mura, Denitsa Kuzeva, Lathika Attanayake, Lalitha Srilal,Mihirani Kethumalika )

The Nuclear Debate

Being an EMINE student, I am frequently asked to justify my reasons for studying in the nuclear field. This simple question has a complicated answer. I mean, nuclear engineering is a complex science, society in general has terrible misconceptions about nuclear power, you can find avid pro- and anti-nuclear environmentalists and these days the Nuclear Question is even a hot topic in politics (if you have been living under a rock - get a quick update of the current French elections). All of this makes it difficult to find your footing regarding this topic, and although it is really easy to say 'No', as engineers we are obliged to investigate thoroughly and take an educated standpoint.

Personally, I have worked in the renewable energy field (I get brownie points for that, right?) and am certainly one of, if not the most worried person in the laboratory when we are performing work with radioactive sources. So, one could say I hold a hopeful-yet-concerned standpoint on nuclear power.

Hopeful because it is going to be difficult to provide large-scale, zero-emission, stable baseline electricity to the world without the contribution of nuclear power. The decrease in nuclear contribution due to age of existing plants, misinformed public concerns leading to adjusted policy developments and therefore decreased investments into new nuclear power, is unfortunately not quite made up by the growing renewable sector (although we all remain hopeful that this too can increase ever-faster than it is, currently). Therefore, as is the famous case of Germany, this power is often being replaced by dirty coal power and we seem to have forgotten that fossil fuels are still Public Enemy Number 1 whilst eagerly applauding the Paris Agreement which has the ultimate goal to ensure global warming remains below the 2° limit.

Concerned because nuclear disasters are undesirable to say the least and I think everyone in the world agrees with this, even the most avid nuclear enthusiasts. In this field, safety is always the primary concern and the laws, regulations and culture regarding this must always be reviewed, tested and optimized – including the technology in use. For this, we need people that are educated in the complicated mechanisms at work in nuclear physics, and we need investments in the next generation of nuclear power which are safer, more robust and better designed (Google - Generation IV reactors). We need to work on the possibilities of using spent fuel as a source, instead of keeping it in the ground as a hazardous waste – all things possible with alternative nuclear reactor designs. And of course, we need people asking ‘why’ and ‘how exactly’ and we have to make sure that these questions can be answered satisfactorily.

The biggest concern of mine, however, is that majority of people who feel extremely anti-nuclear are usually not aware of all the facts (especially, the radiation we experience every day which you can learn more about with this chart). It is worrying that we are going around shouting ‘renewables have the answers!’ when the majority of power is still not being generated by renewable sources, although we hope one day it will be (seriously, we are all pro-renewables and hope capacity can increase in time!). In this way, we will be blindsided by GHG emissions because we are only looking at advancements in certain technologies, as opposed to the bigger picture – which is not as beautiful, unfortunately.

I'm not saying we should all suddenly be super-pro-nuclear. There are big issues facing the nuclear field and renewables should always come first, if possible. But let's get acquainted with the facts before we rule things out. So, if you would like to know a bit more about nuclear, take a look at the interesting considerations in this TED talk, and this one, and this one on alternative fuels too.

Lastly, please do watch the recording of the Speaker Series event held at KTH in Stockholm last month (in the old reactor hall of Sweden's very first nuclear reactor), and especially listen to the Q&A session which unearthed some interesting topics.

Let’s get informed on all the interesting things going on in the energy field!

In other news, if you are still persisting with meat-free-Monday because you really do care about reducing GHG emissions (I hope you are!) – I made these lentil burgers on the weekend and they were delicious. Give them a try!

[Photo by Ahmed Jaudat Nahian]

ESADE, Beyond of the Engineering Education

Designing, Planning, manufacturing and installing are the most dominant words that, can we hear when discussing engineering. Conventional engineering is the way of ease our life, but as we know with these technologies we have already destroyed, waste resources and money over and over without considering the future generations. Deforestation for human needs, global warming due to industrial emission already peaked due to higher growth of the population. This is the new era, people destroy by owner because of technology, when technology develops to ease our life peoples are tending to explore more and more to ease each of every task without thinking and managing about environment and resources.

Are we really success as Engineers? Yes, when considering technical point of view engineers have contributed lots and lots of innovations to the world. But when considering the part of this biosphere humans have done non reversible damage to the environment by destroying and misusing resources and money.

But with all collapse happen with the technology, and due to bad experience that affect to the environment. Engineers are now mostly concern about the environment and as well as the economy. Here now we have things more than engineering, which is considering environment, Society and the economy when applying engineering technology to the real world application. Therefore, as a graduate who are going to contribute to technological world should consider sustainability with environmental systems, society and economic system as same as the technology.

That is the main reason why MSc SELECT is tending to provide all-rounder exposure to the knowledge of Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovations, Economics to the student’s parallel with the technical knowledge. All the SELECT students are participating in the one week crash course in business studies (40-hour crash course) in February in ESADE, Barcelona in Spain. Which is the one of the highest ranked business university in the world. Also ESADE is the one of opportunity for all SELECT students who studies in the KTH, UPC and OUSL with each other. Rather than learning whole sessions are conducted as an interactive session and students have to have a complete project regarding business model development for innovative business.

ESADE crash course 2017

As remote based student, Personally I have gained considerable knowledge that can initiate business studies, management, innovation and marketing further related to my technical background. Each of every first year students of the SELECT annual participating for the crash course and InnoEnergy master school facilitating all the arrangements.

This is highly valuable opportunity for the engineering students in order to think beyond engineering with optimizing not only technology, but also environment, economy and all the factors which is related to our life and future generation to enhance humanity beyond the conventional engineering.

A successful case of Networking

The collaboration between SELECT and EPPEI

Living the Innoenergy experience means that soon or later, you must face "networking". This word will be told you with the solemn tone of a religious commandment, with the gravity of a fundamental law. The principle states that every situation is good for introducing yourself, for connecting with other people and catching opportunities. Even though it may be perceived as an unnatural effort in the beginning, it is the perfect approach to tackle the big challenges in front of us.  

I understood this more clearly recently, having had the opportunity to collaborate for a project, with a South African university, together with my group mates from SELECT. 

Meeting at North West University, one of the partner institutes of EPPEI, with Prof Stuart Piketh

Everything started during the SELECT Spring Seminar, last May in Eindhoven. One of the presentations was held by Prof. Louis Jestin, the creator and director of Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI). One step back: Eskom is the main electricity public utility of South Africa. Within this company, five years ago, EPPEI was launched, a master program that connects the 8 most important technical universities of the country, with the purpose of creating skilled power engineers that will solve, in a medium-term perspective, the challenges of the national electrical infrastructure: grid robustness, environmental impact, asset renovation, start-up of renewables and many others. Does this sound familiar to you? 

Innoenergy and EPPEI happen to be very similar in the trust put in education, but they are somehow complementary in the means to achieve the objective: while we constantly look for the “game changing” idea (our second holy commandment), our South African friends are focused on the creation of dexterous engineers, masters of power plants, and reliable choice makers. The match between the two entities comes natural, and this is why Louis Jestin was giving a very animated presentation in Eindhoven last May, foreseeing the chance of a fruitful collaboration.
The group (almost) complete at NWU

Thanks to Davide Liviero’s incredible networking skills (he will kill me for this), we got in contact with Louis and we decided to get involved in one of the Eskom-EPPEI projects, that became our “integrated Project of the Year” (one of the curricular courses of SELECT). We focused on the Eskom offset plan, that aims to improve standards of living in the poorest settlements of the country, while reducing air pollution, mainly due to domestic coal burning. But I will not spoil any further. In the next post I will reveal more about this project, for which I have a particular enthusiasm. I would just like to thank Innoenergy for funding the flights of our trip to South Africa, and EPPEI professors, staff and students of course, for being so welcoming towards us. Because it was not only about the knowledge we got, but also about the inspiring people we met: professionals with a vision of the goal and a clear idea of the ways to reach it.

Two SELECT students remained in South Africa and they are already writing their thesis in Stellenbosch in this moment. We hope that this collaboration will be fueled by new projects and new exchanges soon, and to see South African students next year, sitting in KTH or UPC classes. Because we believe in the value of networking. We called it community, it echoed ubuntu.

A Case for the Best Master's Program

Today marks two years that I applied for the InnoEnergy Master’s program. Little did I know how much my life would change just by taking that step. The deadline for the first round to apply for all programs is rapidly approaching – only a few days away! If you have any doubt about applying for this incredible adventure, read this and you will be scrambling to fill in your application.

Being a part of the SELECT Master’s, I have travelled to Krakow, Poland, Eindhoven, Netherlands and Stockholm, Sweden, each for one week; on top of the fact that I lived in Barcelona, Spain for one year and Lisbon, Portugal for five months. We have learned about so many other cultures and made friends from several different backgrounds.  InnoEnergy is truly a program of mobility and through this, we have met other students from all over the world who are all striving for the same thing: create a sustainable future.

Some fellow SELECTers and I at the 2016 European Utility Week in Barcelona, Spain - an opportunity afforded to us by being a part of InnoEnergy!
The InnoEnergy CommUnity has also been one of the most incredible parts of the Master’s for me. Being a representative has helped me enrichen my leadership skills and learn how to plan events that inspire and educate. Through the CommUnity I have also been fortunate to participate in meetings around Europe that show the drive and determination we all have to become the largest community of students striving for sustainability in the world.

This is a unique Master’s program, unlike any other: you get an education from two different universities in two different countries, friends from around the world that will be your InnoEnergy family for life and skills that will open many possibilities for you when you (sadly) finish.

Two years ago, I could not have imagined the person I would be today. InnoEnergy has helped develop me into a leader, one that aims to inspire and create the most sustainable world we want to be a part of. So what are you waiting for? Go apply and become the change!

Sharing – how far it can go ?

This is not a post about the popular Facebook option. Still, feel free to share this J
In todays fast and modern lifestyle, quite often we neglect some things which on first sight might appear irrelevant or not significant. Sharing is one of them. Although it is not popular topic, for sure it has importance and affects our lifestyle.
Throughout the history, people shared most of the key resources for their survival – the caves as cover, fireplaces, water wells and many other things. Along with development, the key resources were increasing, but the sharing was decreasing. Since the start of construction of houses, and having private properties, the effect of sharing started to decrease.
Today we live in a world where personal goods/devices are at the highest possible level. Most of the people have their own home, car, electronic devices, cooking equipment and the other necessary things for their daily activities. Why would we need sharing now?
Well, that was a good question and in the same time it was quite difficult to answer – since Uber. Uber is considered one of the pioneers of the emerging sharing economy. Using Uber while being in the cities and BlaBlaCar when you are looking for longer distance travelling have you quite well covered, wherever you may want to travel. By sharing the transport, you care for your budget and the environment. Shared transport means less fuel consumption – which brings double benefit – less expenses and less emissions in the atmosphere. Win-win situation.

While Uber is worldwide known, there are some very interesting ideas growing that haven’t got that much attention yet.  First in the line is – the sharing of tools. This “library of things” is growing fast, and most of their customers are delighted with their innovative approach. Being able to rent a specialized tool which you can’t afford to buy and/or don’t use often, is a great way to have your work done, keeping your budget safe and your storage place not overfilled in the process. Globally, this should result in decreased production of certain devices, leading to smarter use of resources, and decreased energy consumption for production and reducing the waste. This is a growing trend, displayed in several different ways around the global, according to local preferences.

Next coming are the smart cities. This is quite fancy term, used frequently in this period. But what about sharing cities? This initiative in Europe is concentrated on sharing experience in the effort of implementing smart solutions in several cities, with shared funding. Sharing the costs and the risks, comes as a mutual benefit for all the participants in the initiative.

In today’s world, driven by innovation and entrepreneurship, the question arise – Is there a limit in the sharing world? All the positive examples show that it can find its place in many different situations, and most of the time the benefits are multiple. Sharing comes as one more approach directed to improving life quality of citizens, due to decreased costs for same services, and in the same time decreasing the impact of our modern lifestyle on the environment. Once again, win-win situation.

How to start your meat-free Monday trend

If you’re like me – from a meat-loving, can protein even come from something else, but then what will you put on the braai (South African slang for barbecue) – type of culture, switching to a meat-free life is easier said than done. Now, I’m no dead-set vegan, and I will admit to having avoided watching the sensationalized exposés on the meat industry knowing full well that they would probably scar me for life. But I have been decreasing my meat consumption over the past few years for a number of reasons, and since moving to Stockholm, where groceries are very expensive in comparison to what I am used to back home, I decided it was finally time to remove meat from my shopping list altogether.

Whether you care about the health and environmental issues associated with animal agriculture, or are compassionate about the acclaimed animal abuse that goes on to feed the human race, or are just trying to please a vegetarian valentine, I thought I would share a tried and tested, easy ‘crowd-pleaser’ vegetarian recipe for you to try at your next dinner party. Use this to hop onto the meat-free Monday trend!

The adaptable-to-your-pantry vegetarian curry
Time: ±30 mins
Servings: ±4

1.5 Tbsp olive oil / coconut oil / canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed*
1 tsp (or more) fresh ginger, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red / orange / yellow pepper, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 can chickpeas / kidney beans / black beans
1 can light coconut milk
1 tsp red curry paste
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste

Couscous / Quinoa / Rice / Pasta

*No garlic crusher, because student life is tough? Just chop the garlic into as fine pieces as you can.

Add oil, onion and garlic to pot on medium heat. Cook until onions are clear. Add carrots, cook for 5 minutes. Add pepper, tomatoes and ginger. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, curry paste and cayenne pepper, beans/chickpeas, and coconut milk. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid decreases to the state you prefer – if you have pasta as a side, it may be better to thicken the curry, but if you have rice, more liquid is better.

Leave out the coconut milk to make this a tomato based salsa. You can also put it all in a blender to make soup!

Lastly, to aid you in the meat-free decision-making process, here are a few frequently asked questions:

Q: Isn’t is way more expensive?
A: Well, here in Sweden, all food is expensive. That being said, legumes seem to be reasonable all around the world. Consider aligning your grocery shopping to fresh produce that is in season to keep the costs down. If you live in Western or Northern Europe, refer to this chart.

Q: Will I get enough protein and iron?
A: I know quite a few people who have not been eating meat for a long time and none of them have suffered any issues with deficiencies. Vegetarian meals are in fact very well-rounded with adequate protein (legumes, nuts, dairy) and iron (beans, leafy greens). If you are not convinced, invest in a protein supplement.

Q: Doesn’t being vegetarian make it more difficult to eat out and enjoy meals with friends?
A: Nowadays, almost all restaurants offer vegetarian options. Although it may be difficult to convince meat-loving family and friends, they are usually understanding to your cause and do not mind catering for you if you warn them in advance. I'm not saying you should start adding #vegan and #vegetarian to every second facebook post, but opening the conversation on meat won't hurt your social reputation.

Q: Are vegetarian meals more work than ones that include meat?
A: If you are not currently a chef extraordinaire, this way of life may include a few more google searches to find some trusty recipes. A few weeks in, and you will most probably have established a favorite food blogger to follow. On the plus side, you no longer have to deal with the bacteria from raw meat, so you don’t have to wash your hands and equipment in the middle of your preparation!

Innoenergy Master School

This is a blog for the students of InnoEnergy Master's School.