Young people have the greatest stake in building a greener and cleaner future – and understanding how to engage them in the clean energy transition is an essential part of my work at Cleanwatts.
As part of the European Sustainable Energy Week, I was invited to join a panel organized in collaboration between YES-Europe (Young leaders in Energy and Sustainability) and CINEA (European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency) to discuss this topic and more.
I defined 4 key ways that we can encourage greater youth participation in building a better tomorrow – especially through their involvement with RECs.
Watch the full video here and read the 4 key ways below!
1. Democratize Access to Clean, Local Energy
Firstly, we need to democratize access to clean energy. The energy crisis of the past two years has pushed millions into energy poverty, making it increasingly difficult for younger people to contribute to the energy transition.
We need to remove existing barriers – particularly regarding financing, so young people can join RECs to produce and share clean energy – even if they don’t have the financial means to do so.
This is why at Cleanwatts, our approach to RECs means that anyone can join an Energy Community with zero upfront cost, benefiting from an average 30% reduction in their energy tariff, as well as an array of energy optimization services at the individual and collective levels – thus addressing a socially-fair and inclusive clean energy transition for all.
2. Kiome™: Where Clean Energy Meets Gamified Fun
Gamification has been proven to be a powerful mechanism for educating the younger generation. Energy service providers can embed it in their digital energy management platforms to engage younger users in actively optimizing their own energy usage and their participation in RECs.
At Cleanwatts, we have developed Kiome™ (Know Your Own Meter), which transforms energy tracking and their participation in RECs into an exciting and interactive experience. This approach was built on many of the practices of social media networks to ensure maximum usability and engagement. The intuitive Kiome platform encourages young people to connect with other REC members and engage actively in energy saving and energy optimization, both individually and collectively.
Through gamified challenges and rewards, young people can not only save on their energy costs and consumption, but also improve their renewable energy consumption by developing a deeper understanding of the energy trading dynamics within their REC so they can make informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint.
3. Tools and Methodologies to Drive Engagement
People have an innate desire to collaborate and connect with others. Hence, to drive forward the clean energy transition, it’s essential that we understand the best ways to engage young people to become active energy citizens within their local communities.
Through my participation in various EU-funded projects, Cleanwatts has developed tools and methodologies to study this. These tools include:
- An Energy Citizenship Framework to analyze structural and dynamic factors affecting energy citizenship
- Community Level Indicators which are co-designed with community members to track their progress towards the community’s decarbonizations goals
- A Social Values Framework, which measures values deriving from activities within the energy community
- A Community Transition Pathway, which acts as a roadmap for communities on their decarbonization journey, and
- Energy Citizen Agreements, which define roles and give agency to members of the community
It is vital that young people are involved in every stage of RECs, from establishment through to everyday management. These steps can be closely followed up by energy service providers to ensure that future renewable energy projects take into consideration the social dimension of the clean energy transition – including the themes of social engagement and energy citizenship.
4. Training the Next Generation of Sustainable Energy Innovators
To accelerate the clean energy transition, we need passionate young leaders equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. What’s more, young people are calling out for opportunities to train for new green jobs of the future. To meet this need, leaders of the energy transition need to invest resources into mentoring and training these young people.
This is why we have launched the Cleanwatts Academy, our flagship program designed to nurture and mentor aspiring innovators. We are actively seeking out new collaborations with students, universities, and research institutions to collaborate with us, to learn together and to develop innovative new solutions to accelerate the energy transition.
Engaging young people should be at the core of every approach we take towards the energy transition. By democratizing access to clean energy, leveraging gamification in digital energy management platforms, fostering youth engagement with scientifically-sound tools, and training the next green leaders, we can unlock the immense potential of the next generation.
To become a part of these efforts with Cleanwatts, you can contact us today to learn more about forming or joining an energy community or register your interest in collaborating with the Cleanwatts Academy here.