Students Focus on Renewable Energy in Education Programme

Hardly a day goes by without a news story about climate change and renewable energy hitting the headlines. This makes the P1 Marine Foundation Marine Environment and Renewable Energy programme highly topical and salient for students who participate.

With the support of Vattenfall, The Crown Estate and Canterbury City Council, over 400 students aged 9 to 13 have taken part from schools in the Kent and London area over the summer. The programme takes young people to the Kent coast to give them a unique experience in the outdoors by educating them about the coastal environment, its threats and offshore wind power.

The Crown Estate’s Coastal & Stewardship Manager, Gary Thompson, said: “As owners of half of the UK’s foreshore and almost the entire seabed, and facilitators of offshore renewables, we are pleased to be working with Vattenfall and the P1 Marine Foundation to educate the next generation on the coastal environment and importance of renewable energy.”

Vattenfall is one of the key partners in the P1 Marine Foundation education programme and Melanie Rogers, Local Communications Officer on Vattenfall’s Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm explains the company’s involvement.

Tell us about Vattenfall and its mission

“Although relatively new to the UK, Vattenfall, a Swedish owned company, is actually over 100 years old and one of Europe’s major generators of electricity. We are better known in the UK as owners, developers and operators of both onshore and offshore wind farms but our interest in renewable energy started when our company was first set up. In fact hydropower is how we got our name - Vattenfall is a Swedish word which means “Waterfall”

Vattenfall’s mission in the UK is to continue to play a key role in the future of offshore and onshore wind power in the UK energy market.”

When did you decide to get involved in the Marine Environment and Renewable Energy Education programme?

“We received a request in 2013 from The Crown Estate and P1 Marine Foundation to assist with the renewable energy part of The Marine Environment and Renewable Energy Education Programme which we were very happy to do.”

Why is it important for Vattenfall to work with the local community and especially focus on young people?

“Vattenfall is very committed to working with the local community in many different ways from the project stage of a development right through to the operations and maintenance stage once the wind farm has been built. Working with young people not only enables us to explain the reasons why alternative energy is essential but also allows us to introduce them to an exciting new industry to work in. The next generation will play a key role in all aspects of our industry, not only in building and maintaining the wind farms but also in researching and developing new ideas and improvements. This generation and the next will play a vital role in the future security of our electricity supply.”

When looking at renewable energy and climate change, what are you setting out to achieve through the programme?

“We worked with Crown Estate to put together a lesson plan as our objectives were similar. Primarily Vattenfall looks at alternative ways to make electricity because our traditional non-renewable sources of electricity are running out; however, a happy bi-product of renewable energy is that it is low carbon and therefore more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. From this we can also make the link between climate change and the impact and contribution our lives have on climate change and as a result, the environment in general.”

What is the feedback to date from the schools that have taken part so far?

“So far the feedback has been very good and I have received positive comments from teachers and children. It is clear from meeting the children and the content of their letters that they have a good understanding of the practical reasons behind our need for alternative energy. Alongside this, there is a real appreciation of their environment. I’d say the future looks bright as a result.”