Last week, at the Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin, organised by the International Energy Agency and attended by government ministers, CEOs and energy experts from around the world, one speech stood out from the rest.
Victory Luke, a transition year student from Collinstown Park Community College in Clondalkin, Dublin, called for urgent action on climate change to protect the planet for future generations. If the rapturous standing ovation in the Mansion House was anything to go by, the message was received loud and clear.
“For years, scientists and researchers have warned us about climate change. The technology is there. Why aren’t we using it? Why have we waited this long to fight this problem. Why are we only waking up now? We cannot continue down this road of ignorance, it is harming us - and it is harming your children; and the future of this planet. I'd like to leave on one question. Will you continue to watch and wait, or will you do something now?” (Read Vistory’s speech in full here).
Victory is one of a number of students at Collinstown Park Community College who have been working with SSE Airtricity and Microsoft to learn about the importance and power of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Back in December, Microsoft, supported by SSE Airtricity as their energy partner, initiated an innovative project to improve the school’s energy-efficiency capabilities, reducing its carbon footprint and its energy bills at the same time. Microsoft’s funding, with match funding from the SEAI, allowed SSE Airtricity to install modern low-carbon infrastructure, including solar panels and battery storage units across the campus, as well as digital screens to show the school’s energy usage in real-time.
At the core of the project has been an Education Programme, designed by SSE Airtricity in collaboration with Collinstown’s Green School’s Committee, Microsoft and the SEAI, to inform students, staff and parents about renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Since February, pupils from first year and transition year have attended SEAI workshops on climate change and sustainability, taken part in a ‘Generation Green 5-Day Challenge’, showcased their learnings at an energy efficiency evening, and even visited Ireland’s largest wind farm in Co. Galway.
Generation Green 5-Day Challenge
The SEAI, Microsoft and SSE Airtricity delivered workshops to 100 students focusing on climate change and sustainability within the school, their homes, and wider society. These workshops set the perfect platform for the roll-out of the Generation Green 5-Day Challenge. The challenge saw the students focus on how they can be more sustainable and energy-efficient in their everyday lives. There was a different energy-saving tip to be followed every day of the week on topics including Home, Food, Travelling, Technology and Water. It was the duty of the ‘Generation Green Leaders’ to get their fellow pupils engaged in the project. At the end of the week there was a competition, with the students showing how they implemented the energy-saving tips throughout the challenge.
The Generation Green 5-Day Challenge culminated in an open evening, coordinated by SSE Airtricity and Microsoft, to showcase the students’ efforts and spread their learnings throughout the local community. The attendees were educated by exhibitors on energy efficiency, sustainability, biodiversity, and renewable generation. Attendees and exhibitors at the event included the Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Cllr. Mark Ward, Education & Training Board members, and The Union of Students Ireland. Employees from SSE Airtricity and Microsoft also exhibited on the night, demonstrating how both companies embed their values of energy efficiency and sustainability in their operations.
Galway Wind Park
At the start of May, students from Collinstown Park travelled across the country to visit Galway Wind Park, Ireland’s largest wind farm, co-owned by SSE and Greencoat Renewables.
The students walked along the Galway Wind Way, a series of recreational trails at Galway Wind Park, stopping along the way to take in the views, find out about the history of the area and learn about the renewable energy being generated at the site.
The group learnt how Galway Wind Park, at an installed capacity of 174 megawatts, can generate enough green energy to power over 140,000 homes, while offsetting around 220,000 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions annually.
Needless to say, our visitors were blown away! Who knows? Maybe we’ve met our next generation of leaders in the energy industry...