Orkney schools pilot UK green-energy education project


Pentland Firth map
Pentland Firth map

Secondary school pupils in Orkney are the first in the UK to benefit from a new offshore renewables education project launched by the Crown Estate.

‘Clean Energy from the Sea’ enables pupils to acquire the understanding and the technical skills they will need to benefit from the development of renewable energy around their coastline.

An industry based on electricity generation from wave and tidal currents has the potential to create significant employment in Scotland’s coastal communities.

This area offers pupils a thriving base for skills building and future career choices. Enthusiasm for the potential benefits of offshore energy is already high among the schools taking part in the pilot programme. ‘Clean Energy from the Sea’ harnesses this interest and provides active learning opportunities that reflect the cross-subject approach of Curriculum for Excellence.

Young people will be encouraged to seek out information, make sense of it and present it in a way that reflects their depth of understanding across subjects such as geography, physics, and modern studies.

The pilot involves Kirkwall Grammar, Stromness Academy as well as Sanday, Westray and Stronsay junior high schools in Orkney. It may then be rolled out across Scotland – and potentially across the UK.

With the development of the world’s first commercial-scale wave and tidal energy programme in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters, these schools were the clear choice for the Crown Estate’s education pilot. The programme builds on some of the innovative work that schools have already been doing.

Both Sanday and Westray schools have created their own wave devices which generate electricity. Sanday Junior High’s work has taken them to this year’s final of the Junior Saltire Awards.

Sustainability is a central theme of the programme, equipping the young people with the skills needed to be successful contributors to – and the beneficiaries of – the transition to a low carbon future. Pupils will be encouraged to draw lessons from the developments taking place around them, particularly in wave and tidal energy.

The project has been developed by the Sustainable Learning Partnership in conjunction with the Crown Estate, with Orkney Islands Council agreeing to pilot the programme, starting after the summer holidays.

Scottish Commissioner Gareth Baird (Crown Estate) said: “The Pentland Firth and Orkney waters projects have the potential to power up to a million homes and provide a tremendous economic boost. We want to help ensure the businesses and skills are available locally to take advantage of these benefits. This project not only helps to develop the skills needed, but fires the imagination of our young people in a way that will open up further opportunities for the future.”

Councillor Harvey Johnston, vice-chairman of Orkney Islands Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “Our school pupils are growing up in a community that’s playing a global role in the evolution of technologies that harness energy from the seas around us.”

“Wave and tidal devices are already being tested in Orkney and, in the years ahead, we look forward to commercial marine energy generation in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters.

“This new education project will help inspire the pupils of today to consider the potential benefits of marine renewables for them and their community – including the possibility of careers in this exciting new sector.”

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