Powered by youth, green energy advances in Moldova
Imagine a windmill that combines technologies used since the Middle Ages with the most modern research. It is efficient and doesn’t pollute the environment since it doesn’t produce CO2. Imagine it also saves money that would otherwise be spent on electricity.
Fourteen-year-old Denis from Baurci village in southern Moldova went beyond imagining. He designed a prototype.
“I made it from waste or readily available materials, such as polystyrene, cardboard, ice-cream sticks, bottle caps, etc. I will show it to my schoolmates and tell them more how to protect the environment through the use of renewable energy,” explains Denis as he shows his invention.
- 330 children have participated in ENERGEL summer schools.
- More than 22,000 students from 370 schools have become green energy promoters in their communities.
- 250 households and 50 small businesses installed energy-efficient biomass boilers.
- Biomass heating systems were combined with solar hot water systems in 21 sites, including kindergartens and medical facilities.
Passionate about green energy, Denis created a little green world/master studio at home, where he builds wind turbine, solar panel and biomass boiler mock-ups. He dreams that one day he will be able to turn his prototypes into functional devices to make life easier and more sustainable for those he loves.
Denis designed his windmill prototype at the fifth ENERGEL, a summer school organized by the Energy and Biomass Project.
The 10 days of summer school were full of activities. Young energy promoters took part in interactive activities, debates, waste upcycling masterclasses, construction of green technology prototypes, cleaning of green spaces in the surrounding areas and many other green energy activities. They even conducted experiments to generate electricity from citrus fruits or pickled cucumbers.
Fourteen-year-old Ana Maria, fond of upcycling, transformed her old jeans into two eco bags. She also coached others on how to use their creativity to make use of unwanted stuff. At the end, a pile of garbage was transformed into a small exhibition: vases, cups, plates, eco bags and wallets.
“It is amazing how every year ENERGEL demonstrates how important sustainable energy is for the planet and how entertaining it can be. Each of us can be part of the process to change the way we use energy, in which children have a key role to play,” believes Pirkka Tapiola, the EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova.
Since ENERGEL summer school was launched in 2012, more than 330 children from across Moldova have attended. They all studied the Renewable Energy Sources curriculum, a new course launched at schools in communities where the Energy and Biomass Project had installed biomass heating systems.
The curriculum teaches children in 7th and 8th grades how the sun, water, plants and wind can protect the planet and increase the country’s energy security. The first learning course on energy efficiency in the school programme, it introduces the issue of energy efficiency and renewables in an engaging way.
In 2013, the Ministry of Education introduced a Renewable Energy Sources curriculum for the 5th to 9th grades as an optional course for schools throughout Moldova. Since then, the number of schools that joined this educational initiative has tripled. More than 22,000 students from 370 schools have become green energy promotors.
“I am inspired by the children’s excitement and by how much they know about renewable energy. The solutions they come up with to use renewable energy and keep the environment clean are impressive. Thanks to these enthusiasts, we can progress more in achieving one of the major Global Goals to improve everyone’s access to accessible, viable, sustainable and modern energy,” says Dafina Gercheva, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Moldova.
Having this educational opportunity, through both the curriculum and the summer schools, is an important step towards engaging young people around a significant issue in Moldova. Back home, young people act as promoters of green energy and engage their peers in activities like cleaning, innovation master classes, debates and workshops.
Some of them have already made their career choices: they will become green energy engineers or environmentalists.
The 2015-2017 Energy and Biomass Project is a three-year project funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP. It is the second phase, building on the success of the original project launched in 2012.