Renewable Energy and the Next Generation
by Raihan Amir Rashidi on Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Clean energy is a complex and multi-dimensional topic. However, when you boil it down to the basics, it can be inclusive of and understandable for younger generations. Hoping to achieve just that, the 100% Iowa team hosted their second virtual book club series targeted to young Iowans on July 29. This special edition, called Renewable Readers Jr, featured a panel of five youths aged 7- to 12-years answering questions about their own energy use and thoughts on Alan Drummond’s book, Energy Island: How One Island Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World.
Drummond’s book tells the true story of Samsø, a Danish island, that received funding to generate 100% of its power from renewable energy. Samsø produces all of its energy from a combination of wind and biomass. The illustrated book effectively explains the transition to clean energy, oppositional arguments, and the environmental impact of nonrenewable energy pollution. The author’s incorporation of young characters and their creative ideas in the clean energy solution in Samsø is important for youth to see their own contribution to the clean energy movement. Through the story, the panelists were able to understand the potential of clean energy in Iowa.
“They started off just like us, using carbon, but it’s different when they switched and they all started using windmills and started using renewable resources and I feel like we could change into that by helping our Earth, by doing the same thing they did,” said Addi, 12.
Educating youth about clean energy is the first step to creating a generation that views the transition from non-renewable to renewable energy use as achievable. The story also sparked conversation about the panel members’ own energy efficiency practices.
“We have solar panels and two electric cars, we turn off the lights when we go out of a room and close the door so we don’t use as much air conditioning or heating,” said Milo, 9.
Elly (12), Miley (10), and Mason (7) reflected on how they use energy every day. They included turning on lights, preparing food, and using the dishwasher. Elly provided ways she could cut back on her energy use: “[I could] use candles to create light instead of turning on our light switches.”
The discussion not only helped the participants consider their own energy consumption, but the future of clean energy in Iowa, as well.
“I’ve never thought of Iowa as an island but I understand now we all live on a big one [island] and if we don’t take care of it, it will go to waste because we need to take care of the stuff that we’ve been given,” said Addi, 12.
The push for clean energy in Denmark continues beyond 100% renewable generation. In May of 2020, Denmark announced its plans to expand its clean energy effort by building offshore wind turbine farms in the North and Baltic seas. These additional energy islands will help meet Denmark’s goal of 70% emissions reduction by 2030 and would also allow the exportation of electricity to neighboring countries.
Just like Samsø, clean energy solutions in Iowa need to bring different voices to the table, including the next generation who will face most of the consequences and especially marginalized communities who are highly impacted by climate change.
You can watch the full video of Renewable Readers Jr. on YouTube. For continued learning, educational and interactive activities for kids can be found online.
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- clean energy
- climate change
- renewable energy
- solar power
- wind power