Renewable energy is a core issue in the world today. It affects jobs, homes, food production and climate change. The world would not function without energy – and the importance of clean, affordable energy has never been more relevant.
From its effects on global warming to the natural disasters across the globe, clean energy has a huge impact on our lives. This is an important context for many academic subjects and classroom discussions today.
Why is teaching renewable energy important?
Energy surrounds us. Energy powers homes and classrooms. It provides heat, light and electricity. It fuels our vehicles, powers our computers and prepares our food. It’s at the core of students’ daily lives across the world and is a subject that we should encourage them to engage with on an academic level.
However, it’s not just the existence and importance of energy that could form part of lesson plans. The value of renewable energy sources should also be at the forefront of students’ minds. Even with humanity’s progress in clean energy producers like solar and wind power, energy still contributes to around 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – one of the main causes of climate change.
Finally, it can be easy to take access to energy for granted. Across the world, huge amounts of the global population do not have access to modern electricity or other energy sources. Today’s students can be the ones to drive change and strive for clean, affordable energy for all.
How can renewable energy be part of a teaching program?
The subject of energy crosses over into a wide array of scientific and engineering topics in the classroom. For example, teachers could explore:
- The different types of renewable energy: solar, wind, water, geothermal.
- How that energy is converted from one form into another, eg. solar power to electricity.
- Our sun as a source of energy across the globe.
- Engineering challenges and achievements such as hybrid cars or biodegradable materials.
- Causes and effects of global warming.
As energy is generally an invisible force behind our lives, it can be easy to overlook its importance. In reality, it’s not an abstract subject, but one that is highly-relevant and with which we should all engage.
Renewable energy and global leadership
We’ve looked at how energy is central to students’ daily lives, but there is another area of discussion that would benefit from a place in the classroom. It’s not only important that energy is clean, but also that it’s affordable. This is at the heart of global leadership: making the world a better place for all.
Almost a billion people are still without modern electricity. That’s one in every seven people, even in today’s technologically advanced world. Three billion people still rely on wood, coal, charcoal or even animal waste for their cooking and heating. That’s almost half the world’s population who are still without access to clean cooking energy.
We can encourage students to view subjects through this global lens. Lesson plans could discuss these energy challenges and provide meaningful context for students. Furthermore, finding ways not just to inquire or research to enrich students’ background on the issues related to renewable energy, there are many opportunities to involve students in action-oriented projects that have a local or even global impact. Having an awareness of these issues will help students become global leaders.
The United Nations has a number of energy-related goals that it is aiming to hit by 2030, including:
- Universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy.
- Boosting clean energy research and technology through international cooperation.
- Expanding infrastructure and technology for supplying modern energy in developing countries.
These goals could be incorporated into teaching programs, or raised as discussion points in class. By teaching energy-related subjects through this lens, young people will be inspired to take an interest in the world around them. It shows them the challenges that are faced by those from other nations or cultures. Finally, it empowers them to know that they can be a force for change for those who are currently affected by clean energy shortages.
Why is it important to teach Affordable and Clean Energy?
Energy affects the world around us in incredible, life-changing ways. It’s a force that illuminates our world and enriches our lives. Yet it is also something that can be damaging to our planet and our future. Finally, a large chunk of humanity is still without access to affordable, modern energy.
These are some of the reasons why the UN has made renewable energy part of its Sustainable Development Goals. As with all their goals, SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy has a vital role to play in today’s education. It highlights the impact of renewable energy on a global scale. It also encourages students to see the challenges and issues around energy from new perspectives.
At Participate Learning, we have developed a global leadership framework that addresses these SDGs. It’s designed to boost students’ awareness of energy-related challenges across the world, alongside other UN goals. It seeks to inform and empower today’s students and show them that they can contribute to a future that has clean, renewable and affordable energy for all.
Discover meaningful ways to implement SDG #7 in your classroom with this blog post.