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          Education and jobs

          Wind energy technology has enormous educational potential. As the sector grows, so does the number of people it employs.

          There are two reasons for erecting a small wind turbine in an urban area. One is obviously to generate some clean, renewable energy. The other is to raise awareness of energy issues and to demonstrate the technology where it will be seen by large numbers of people. Renewable energy technologies all have enormous educational potential.

          EcoACTIVE's mobile education unit, Hackney, London
          Credit: EcoACTIVE

          Some people would argue that wind turbines are too intrusive in densely populated areas, especially compared with solar panels, which are silent and static. But the high visibility of wind turbines can be seen as a positive thing when the aim is to raise awareness of energy issues. The impact of the turbine(s) will be felt by a larger number of people, and the educational value can be great.

          People of all ages can learn from studying a wind turbine. The device itself is a natural attention-grabber, with links into a wide range of study areas - from science to geography to history. For schoolchildren, there are many excellent resources available which link to key stages of the national curriculum. Renewable energy is also a good, practical introduction to the more abstract concepts of energy, work and power. Involvement with a renewable energy project also tends to highlight the importance of energy efficiency (e.g. using low-energy light bulbs and other energy efficient products) and energy conservation (e.g. making sure you turn the lights off when they’re not needed and don’t leave TVs etc on standby). This can link in with the teaching of Citizenship in schools.

          As renewable energy becomes more widespread, there will be a greater need for installers and maintenance engineers of wind energy systems – a new growth area for training and employment. Positive examples of working turbines and passive wind energy systems will help recruit the next generation of wind energy professionals.

          Researchers always need data, and the statistics of a turbine in use on a new site or a natural ventilation system will add to the wealth of data available, leading to better understanding and improvements in technology.