West Aussie schools power into an intelligent energy future

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Inspiring the next generation to be curious and creative problem solvers.
Camera IconInspiring the next generation to be curious and creative problem solvers. Credit: Synergy.

Our ever-evolving world has called for change in the way we think about our future and the way we use our energy – and our education system is adapting by introducing different learning approaches to prepare the next generation as we move into a more information-based economy.

The plan is to create curious and creative problem solvers; to prep our young and bright minds with real world problems for real world solutions.

In a rapidly changing energy landscape creating innovative solutions that focus on the supply of safe, secure and sustainable energy sources is integral, and has the power to create fundamental change. We are already seeing the positive effects of implementing this forward-thinking mentality: solar panels powering homes and wind farms operating across our state.

Without a doubt we are becoming more aware of the importance of renewable energy, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education plays a crucial role in achieving this for our future. If we empower and encourage individuals and communities to be innovators, we can position ourselves to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges ahead.

In July 2020 Premier Mark McGowen and the Minister for Energy Hon. Bill Johnston announced The Schools Virtual Power Plant Pilot Project. Selected schools are partnering with Synergy to help better understand the potential of combining renewable energy sources to provide a stable and reliable energy system.

Synergy spokesperson Colin Smith said Virtual Power Plants could help communities move away from the reliance of coal and gas power stations by storing and sharing renewable energy at a local level.

“A Virtual Power Plant is a network of electricity sources – like rooftop solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles – and these electricity sources are aggregated to generate, store and distribute electricity locally,” Mr Smith said.

“Schools are ideal candidates for the project given the majority of their energy consumption happens during the day, when the batteries can store the excess energy generated by their solar PV systems. This will help to manage the peak demand in the evening,” he said.

“VPPs are an important part of our efforts to explore smarter ways to make, store, use, and trade energy as we move towards a better energy future for Western Australia.”

The project, which was also recently announced to include an additional six schools in Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, gives the participating schools and teachers the opportunity to introduce STEM education to their students – which will not only help students gain crucial capabilities and skills needed to be equipped for the future, but give them the opportunity to develop a passion in the field.

“We’re collaborating with teachers and other education providers to develop learning opportunities that will focus on providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to explore new possibilities for WA’s energy future,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re hoping to inspire the next generation in a transforming energy world.”

Synergy is proud to be partnering with the WA community for the Schools VPP Pilot Project, to learn and provide more reliable and affordable energy; to rely less on non-renewable sources. The project is an essential experience as we move into a more intelligent energy future. For more on VPPs, visit Synergy.

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