A post-graduate student of the climate crisis is set to represent Kingston University (KU) in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest semi-finals.

Matthias Pilz, from Seelow in eastern Germany, is researching how communities can best respond to the challenges and threats posed by the climate crisis.

The 29-year-old Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing student at KU won his place in the national round of this year's 3MT contest after presenting a summary of his studies in just 180 seconds to a panel of judges at the University.

The 3MT is an academic competition, developed by the University of Queensland in Australia, designed to challenge doctoral students to deliver a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in three minutes.

Mr Pilz's thesis used algorithms to show how a decentralised system of renewable energy would offer the best model for communities hoping to transition to renewables so they can mitigate the damaging effects of climate breakdown.

"If we're serious about combating climate change, then we need to move to a more decentralised renewable energy system, where people produce their own electricity in their homes and store it in local batteries.

"To avoid risking the stability of the grid, households would have to be incentivised to adjust their demand according to production. Energy companies could provide that through billing schemes that reward cooperation," he said

Mr Pilz designed mathematical formulae to back up his thesis using game theory – the mathematical study of how individuals or groups interact – to analyse how communities could work together to share and use energy they produced from solar panels and small-scale wind turbines on their properties.

His work showed that residents would respond quickly and embrace renewable energies if energy companies offered them the right incentives.

"The simulations show this type of interaction leads to a more stable power grid even with the integration of these renewables. There is real potential here for real world applications," Mr Pilz said.

In total, nine KU students were given training on presentation of their theses by former broadcast journalist and communications consultant Etienne Duval.

Professor Andrea Petroczi, who has been coordinating KU's involvement in the 3MT contest for the past three years, as well as providing training on the academic aspects, said the students had developed key skills both in communication but also in considering the impact of their work.

"Demonstrating how people will benefit from research is becoming increasingly important," she said. "Learning to think about this early on, while working on their PhDs, gives these postgraduate students a tremendous advantage as emerging scholars in their fields."

The 3MT semi-finals get underway next month, with the six national finalists due to be announced in August.

To find out more, contact Rob Pattinson of KU's communications team on 020 8417 6584 or email press@kingston.ac.uk.