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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kaplan

Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition 2019

On November 22nd our team participated in the Ross Renewable Energy Case Competition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There along with 15 other teams we competed in the Great Distributed Energy Resource Draft. Our team, dubbed, siNRG, consisted of Nick Hamil, Tomasz Szostek, Kristina Nikiforova, Steven Mascioli, and myself.

Distributed Resources Draft

For this case competition, each team was tasked with picking 2 distributed energy technologies that the team felt would be critical to a carbon neutral US economy by 2040. Like many of our competitors, we decided to pick an energy supply technology and an energy distribution or management technology. For the management technology we chose Vehicle to Grid Electric Vehicles (V2G EV). This is utility management software that uses the batteries of plugged in vehicles to balance demand shifts in the electric grid via two way charging/discharging stations. While V2G EV was a common technology explored by several teams, our generation technology was unique, as it was Biomass, also known as Anaerobic Digestion. A developed technology that has yet to take off, Biomass captures the off gas from manure, landfills, and wastewater treatment facilities and turns it into natural gas, which can be used for heat, electrical generation, and/or gas derivative products such as plastics. With the support of several studies, our team pitched those two key solutions to a team of expert judges.

Lessons Learned

This case competition provided some challenges to our team. One of the biggest was the time crunch within the presentation. Tasked with explaining two technologies and a business plan for each required us to be concise and to the point. Our passionate team had tons of great information we wanted to share, but needed to only use the best and most relevant material. The judges were also provided quite a bit of helpful feedback around how we presented. Like any good Tepper team, we came prepared with the financial numbers, though the judges provided some feedback about how to present those most effectively. Lastly, as this competition required us to submit our slides a few weeks in advanced to gain entry to the competition, it highlighted the need to practice the oral part of the presentation before submitting as well. Given the chance, the team would likely modify a few slides based on our practice runs.


RECC was a great chance for our team to get to know each other better, but also to meet some very interesting students and members of the energy community. We are pretty sure we chatted with each school in attendance including Minnesota, UChicago, Michigan, Rice, UT Austin, Duke, UNC, Cornell, Georgia Tech, and Yale. As we had just picked a date for the inaugural Tepper Cleantech Case Competition (coming March 2020), we used RECC as a platform to invite other students and to approach potential sponsors. Additionally, the RECC team at Michigan set up coffee chats with the participating students with three of the sponsors, AES Next, Marathon Capital, and Greentech Capital. Each of our team members spoke participated with at least one company.

Going Forward

To start, biomass has a huge potential as a method to reduce carbon emissions, a profitable business opportunity, and ruse to let a us make poop jokes on stage. We all found our dream job title: "technoeconomist." Lastly we hope to use RECC as a spring board to success in the UCLA energy case competition and TC3!

Special Thanks to the members of Turn Down for Watt (last year's team) for helping us practice and get ready for this competition. You did inspire another school to name their team Turn Up for Watt this year.

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