The Pump Won’t Prime Itself: Handing over the Passion of Hydropower to the Future Generations

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The Pump Won’t Prime Itself: Handing over the Passion of Hydropower to the Future Generations

DATE:

March 22, 2021

BY:

Pierre Marx, General Manager for Hydro North America, GE Renewable Energy

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The Pump Won’t Prime Itself: Handing over the Passion of Hydropower to the Future Generations

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Working for Hydropower is working for a crucial purpose: managing two essentials that some of us are lucky to take for granted — energy and water.  We tackle challenges like how to provide freshwater services, how to control flooding, how to catalyze economic development around reservoirs … all while producing clean, affordable and reliable energy.

To enable hydropower to play its unique role in facilitating a vibrant clean energy future, we believe it is important to convince the young people that hydropower is exciting and offers a great way to do something positive for the planet.  We have been doing that for several years and continue to do it.

I remember a visit of several years ago when my team and I – and our partners from asset owners Duke Energy and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy — visited the Queen City STEM School in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We encouraged 4th through 8th grade students to continue to study hard and learn as much as they can about renewable energy so they can become informed and active citizens in a world we all want to be sustainable for future generations.  The enthusiasm in their participation, the candor in their questions and the knowledge they already had about renewable energy are still fresh in my memory and motivating me as I do my daily work. More importantly, they understood that studying math and science puts young people in a position to have a career in the hydro industry, at a company like GE or with one of our customers.

We are currently working with the STEM School Highlands Ranch, located in Douglas County, Colorado, with their AP Environmental Science Students on the subject of “How can renewable energy prepare us for life after carbon-based energy?”   This QUEST is a student-driven, experiential learning collaboration inspired and informed by subject matter experts from GE Renewable Energy.  Industry experts  serve as mentors in the design and direction of the project.  We’ve kicked off this outreach within the last few weeks and are incredibly impressed with the administrators, teachers, and – especially – the remarkably bright students at this school.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydropower Vision report states that hydropower in the United States could grow from 100 GW today to nearly 150 GW of combined electricity generating and storage capacity by 2050. Beyond the capacity, hydro is the right balance for the integration of other intermittent renewable resources on the grid, like wind or solar, and enables the energetic transition toward a clean, affordable and reliable energy.

We will need a lot of talented young people tomorrow to drive hydro in that transition. The energy, the enthusiasm, the active participation of the students and their remarkable teachers at the multiple schools we’ve visited makes me very confident that the future of our industry is in good hands.