November 27, 2020
Have you ever seen wind turbines or solar photovoltaic plants while on road trips and wondered what those are for? Have you ever come across a large hydro power plant and become curious about how does it work? If these fascinating renewable energy technologies (alternatively called, clean energy or green energy) do not spark your interest yet, consider the science behind some of these renewable energy technologies. Why does a hot gas balloon go up? Why does the sunlight intensity, at a particular place, change during summer and winter? You must have been hearing about climate change lately. Do you know what 1 ton of carbon dioxide means or how a greenhouse keeps the vegetables fresh in winters?
Answering the scientific questions given above is critical to get insights about energy production, especially renewable energy production.
Renewable energy has attracted a lot of interest globally, and its demand is increasing every day. It is harvested from resources that are renewed by natural cycles on a human timescale. Today, solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, biomass energy, tidal energy, and wave energy are some of the most common types of renewable energy. Since these energies come through natural cycles, they do not cause any environmental damage nor contribute to climate change. Renewable energy has a vast number of positive impacts on our lives. It promises to reduce pollution (such as carbon footprint reduction), climate change-induced natural disasters, and increase health benefits resulting in a lower number of lung-related diseases.
The global energy demand is rising. This is due to the increase in population, energy consumption per household, industrialization, and the dependence on vehicles on the road. In energy consumption per household area, extreme reliance on appliances in everyday lives makes a big part of it. Even charging an electric car at our homes in the next few years will be the norm.
Renewable energy, produced with state-of-the-art advanced technologies, promises to meet this global energy demand by replacing today’s energy that is produced from fossil fuels. The energy produced from fossil fuels is unsustainable, produces greenhouse gases (GHGs), and causes severe environmental problems such as climate change. Renewable energy promises to enhance energy independence [see this reference] which you will hear more about as you graduate from high school.
An important question is why and how should today’s high school students educate themselves on renewable energy technologies? By the term “technologies”, we refer to the processes that produce renewable energy.
Acquiring technology-related education in the areas of renewable energy presents an excellent opportunity for you to become a responsible citizen of the world and also enable you to tap into the vast job market of the renewable energy sector, which should further prosper in the next few years.
The challenges of renewable energy technologies are enormous; Its success depends on finding and employing professionally qualified individuals who are capable to work for the industry. This job sector, therefore, requires conscious and knowledgeable individuals. This is where high school students like you come in!
Global projections suggest that the coming decade will see a boom in renewable energy-focused jobs. This is particularly relevant as electric power utilities shift from a predominantly fossil fuel-based power production system to a renewable energy-based system. See some snippets here.
Therefore, pursuing STEM education that includes renewable energy technologies, at high schools seems to be a smart choice for you. Whether you decide to work in renewable energy technologies or not, STEM education is the ideal framework for the majority of the high school students that will prepare you for the crucial part of the world you live in. However, if you choose STEM education that includes renewable energy technologies at high school may be your starting point to build your career in renewable energy technologies. Once properly trained, with further training later in colleges and universities in the renewable energy niche, your skills will properly align with the requirements of tomorrow’s utilities and businesses.
The perception that STEM subjects are complex and dry can be a major challenge in learning it. However, an effective way to address this perception is by making real-world connections while studying these subjects in high school. For example, learning about the working of a wind turbine through the concept of rotational kinetics in high school physics can be useful in learning about the working of a wind turbine. Similarly, linking the knowledge of chemistry to the working of bio-ethanol production can work wonders. You will find that making these connections can make the apparently dry subjects interesting.
However, these learning methodologies require you to put some extra effort into finding the resources that can help you make these linkages. Ideally, high school (in-person class) is the best place for STEM-based education. However, not all high schools are able to provide technology-related education. To fill this gap, online learning solutions and e-learning resources serve as the right solution [see this e-learning portal]. They enable you to gain the concepts and skills that help you excel in school and your future career.