Today our team could add another new student-ambassador, Hussein Zahreddine. Last year he joined the American University of Beirut as a graduate student ‘Energy Studies’. We welcome him, with all his experience and ‘obsession’ in the field of developing sustainable energy, and we are happy that he’s motivated to help us finding serious candidates to answer one of the first three challenges. Furthermore he might look for opportunities to work out a next challenge. Cool Down The Planet first asked Hussein Zahreddine to answer some questions.
Hi Hussein Zahreddine, can you introduce yourself?
About 10 years ago, I took my first step onto the path that led me to this diverse and terrific field of sustainability and renewable energy. In 2008, I enrolled at Texas A&M University (Qatar) and graduated in 2012 with a Mechanical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree. During that period, I worked on several phases of sustainable professor-student led initiatives pertaining to concentrated solar energy. After graduation, I joined Chevron Qatar and later GreenGulf and became part of a team pioneering work on some of the first grid-tied solar power generation projects in Qatar. I also worked as a consultant and project manager for a couple of projects (mainly in Chile and the US), designing commercial and utility scale solar photovoltaic power plants. In 2017, I left Qatar and returned to my home country Lebanon to join the American University of Beirut as a graduate student working on my Energy Studies MS degree.
What motivated you to choose for this study?
I was worried a prolonged focus on one specific kind of renewables would inhibit my future skills and career developing chances. I looked up the Energy Studies program at AUB, and I was delighted to know it offered a wonderful and comprehensive introduction into the domains of energy politics / economics / law. These are all fields that I was not familiar with, and that was part of the challenge I was seeking; to explore new territories and in a way force myself to leave my comfort zone of only doing PV system design and execution and to go into a broader and much diverse field of energy technology and policy making.
What are your ambitions? How would you like to develop your future career?
Here’s the deal: I am obsessed with the act of increasing awareness and the teaching/presentation methodologies on renewable energy systems and sustainable development. I mean there is nothing in that topic not to like! My last year at work focused more on business development and interaction with clients, and that’s where the real challenge of convincing people to adopt sustainable development strategies and to take action and become more energy efficient really turns out to be. The money is there, the attitude is there. It is just that push that is required to close down that conviction loop, and that is I believe where we come into play. If we master that art of subject presentation of the most fundamental principles of sustainability that we care for so dearly, changing the world becomes a trivial matter. To answer your question, I am currently very interested in examining and exploring possible investment strategies and energy policies related to that topic.
Do you see any consequences from climate change in your region? If yes, can you give an example?
Yes indeed. And I say this with a heavy heart! Temperatures are reaching peaks that were not on average attainable a decade ago. The tides are coming up higher, and the amount of rain Lebanon is getting seems to be dwindling by the year. All of that is the observable. I am pretty sure more scientific backed data from local data centers would validate many more indicators on the effect that climate change has had on this region.
What do you consider is a strong quality of the Cool Down The Planet formula?
You reaching out to universities and the way you are doing it is just the coolest variable in the Cool Down the Planet formula! I love how broad your reach has attained. From what I’ve read on your website, the comments and the interactions, (I’m pretty sure you don’t need me saying this to know it’s true!) it seems you guys are doing a terrific job reaching out to sponsors and contributors alike. The topics you are covering are interesting and the way you are doing it is equally exciting. The fact that Cool Down The Planet has become this engine and platform of interaction between professionals and students with the needed potential skills to tackle certain problems tops high end solution provision. And the fact that you are doing this for the sake of the planet even gives it more value and the feature of virtue. I am very honored to be in touch with you indeed.