The winners of the Green Talents 2014, in which young researchers from across the globe submit their research in the field of sustainable development to be judged by a panel of German experts, will be announced in October.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) achieved a record 431 applicants from 80 different countries – 12 of which are South African nationals – for the 2013 edition of Green Talents.
Last year, University of Pretoria’s South African Research Chairs Initiative carbon materials and technology researcher Heinrich Badenhorst was one of the 25 researchers who won the opportunity to live in Germany and conduct research at an institute or company of their choice, following selection as one of the Green Talent 2013 winners.
“Badenhorst was selected for the impact his research has on the sustainable modernisation of African energy supply, a very important topic. He was then invited to join the Green Talents Forum and now has the opportunity to return to Germany for his research stay this year,” says BMBF sustainability, climate and energy directorate deputy director-general Wilfried Kraus.
Badenhorst’s research deals with developing efficient storage media for thermal solar energy by using different graphite materials and low-cost static systems.
Kraus explains that winners are selected based on the relevance of their research topic to sustainable development; the potential social and environmental impacts of the research; the likelihood of successfully implementing the research approach; the originality of the selected approach; and any other relevant qualifications the applicant may have.
“The Green Talents are selected for their forward- orientated and innovative thinking, which the panel members believe will make them the future leaders in their fields,” he adds.
Applicants must also be enrolled in a master’s academic programme or be professionals under the age of 32 with a higher academic degree.
Applicant submissions are made on the BMBF’s website and must include their personal information, a written explanation of their research, a motivation for participation in the Green Talents competition and a letter of recommendation.
Kraus notes that the Green Talent programme is supported by a host of German institutions, universities and companies, such as chemicals group BASF, electronics and electrical engineering group Siemens, motor vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen and European airline manufacturer Airbus.