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New electricity for Davos?

From 7 to 9 March, a team of 27 students on the Master’s degree programme in IT and Business Process Management at the University of Liechtenstein carried out a project in cooperation with Davos’s electric utility EWD AG, under the guidance of lecturers Hagen Pöhnert and Dr. Ed Weiss.

 


Students at the University of Liechtenstein explored this question.

From 7 to 9 March, a team of 27 students on the Master’s degree programme in IT and Business Process Management at the University of Liechtenstein carried out a project in cooperation with Davos’s electric utility EWD AG, under the guidance of lecturers Hagen Pöhnert and Dr. Ed Weiss.


The focus was to determine the acceptance and awareness of renewable energy – solar energy in particular. On Saturday, 9 March 2013, the students presented their results to the public in the form of an exhibition. The event took place at the Bubenbrunnenplatz in the centre of Davos.
 
For this project, the students founded a self-organized, virtual consultancy company: Davos 13 Inc. The study was carried out on behalf of Davos’s electric utility EWD AG. The basis for this study is EWD AG’s intention to install a photovoltaic plant in the Davos mountains. 

The planned area for this plant covers around four hectares, which approximately corresponds to the area covered by four football pitches, installed at an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level. Such a plant, which would be one of the largest solar power stations in the Alps, would be able to produce around 12.5% of Davos’s current electricity requirements. 
 
Part of the students’ task was to determine the acceptance and awareness regarding alternative energy in the municipality of Davos. To this purpose, 100 interviews were carried out with inhabitants of Davos. Subsequently, these were used to derive recommendations for EWD AG’s communication to the public and the further progression of the project. 



The survey showed that Davos’s population has an essentially positive attitude towards solar energy. However, with such a large plant there is still some scepticism too, particularly regarding the landscape – which would be changed by the installation of the plant. The result: that, above all, the positive perception of the plant in the opinion of all stakeholders will be of crucial significance as the project progresses further. 

Last Saturday, the students of the University of Liechtenstein presented their results to the public. This was realized in a purposefully unusual way – pedestals were built on the Bubenbrunnenplatz in Davos using the snow there, which were supposed to represent the solar panels. The poster displayed on them informed the more than 70 visitors about the contents and results of the study. Representatives from the University of Liechtenstein and EWD AG were also on hand to answer the questions of the curious visitors. 

Managing Director of EWD AG, Hans-Jörg Meier, received the students’ results with words of commendation. The results will be integrated in the further planning of the project. “I am very impressed by the work of the students at the University of Liechtenstein. Within a very short time this team carried out an opinion poll, delivering us important inputs for our future work on this very special project.”
  


From the University of Liechtenstein’s point of view, the aim was to use this virtual company to give students a real feel for the challenges involved in their future management responsibility. 

This project, which is not commonplace in university educational programmes, has been organized by Hagen Pöhnert in cooperation with the American psychologist Dr. Ed Weiss for the fifth time now. Hagen Pöhnert is certain: “We let the students experience management responsibility first-hand. Within a very short time, the company must be organized, the required management structures created, and results gathered. This means 12-hour days with quick decisions and conflict situations too, which we sometimes provoke on purpose. By achieving the project goal, the students experience the fantastic feeling of having built a successful team together. The management tools they have learned will be helpful in the future careers of these young people.”       
  
The Academic Director of the degree programme at the University of Liechtenstein, Dr. Bernd Schenk, also praised the students as a fantastic team, who had worked intensively and delivered good results. 

Further information and pictures can be found on Facebook under Davos-13-Inc.