Media releases

Hydrocharge energises judges to win Energy Institute climate change award


    A young engineer from Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire, UK and his novel, eco-friendly mobile charging device have won this year’s Energy Institute Climate Change Special Award as part of the Big Bang Competition.

The Award recognises projects developed by young people aged 11-18 that are aimed at bringing about a lasting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as a contribution to the UK’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

Student Gianpaolo, 17, impressed the judges with his fully working portable ‘Hydrocharge’ prototype that can be charged using the energy of flowing water in an outdoor setting.

As well as the prize of £500, Gianpaolo will also work with the EI over the coming months. He will feature in an episode of the EI’s ‘Energy in Conversation’ podcast, take over the EI blog, Twitter and Instagram feeds and attend one of the EI’s introductory training courses for energy professionals.

Gianpaolo was chosen from over 300 young people from across the country who were selected to be finalists of The Big Bang Competition, an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people's achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the decision was made remotely by the EI’s expert judges - EI President Steve Holliday FREng FEI and EI trustee Emily Spearman CEng MEI – and involved consideration of video material and a conference call with Gianpaolo and other shortlisted entrants.

Steve Holliday, who is the former CEO of National Grid, said:

“At the Energy Institute we’re committed to encouraging the clean energy leaders of tomorrow, and it was a pleasure judging so many of them during this process.

“Hydrocharge stood out as a project linking a passion for the outdoors with a focus on helping the climate along with real commercial potential. Congratulations to Gianpaolo and Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School.”

Emily Spearman, who heads up project management at offshore wind company Ørsted, said:

“Both Steve and I were blown away with the work that had gone into this project. In addition to this being a wonderful concept, Gianpaolo did great research and involved relevant stakeholders.

“We would like to congratulate Gianpaolo and all entrants on their resilience and determination during such a difficult time - it certainly bodes well for the future of the STEM industry.”

Notes for editors

  1. For media enquiries please contact Robyn Wainwright on 07815 542288 or
  2. The Energy Institute (EI) is the chartered professional membership body bringing together expertise for urgent global challenges.
    We gather and share essential knowledge about energy, provide the skills that are helping us all use it more wisely, and develop the good practice needed to keep it safe and secure.
    We articulate the voice of energy experts, taking the know-how of around 20,000 members and 200 companies from 120 countries to the heart of the public debate.
    And we’re an independent, not-for-profit, safe space for evidence-based collaboration, an honest broker between industry, academia and policy makers.
    The EI is here for anyone who wants to better understand or contribute to the extraordinary energy system on which we all depend.
  3. The Big Bang Competition aims to recognise and reward young people's achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and provide them with the opportunity to build their skills and confidence in project-based work. It is open to 11 to 18 year olds from across the UK who have completed a project or activity in any field of science, technology, engineering or maths.