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Students' energy-saving aims highlighted

PUBLISHED: 22:50 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:55 06 July 2010

SHOWCASING the talents of young people in Lowestoft, a special celebratory event has marked the achievements of an 18-month pilot project in the town.

And the youngsters who took part in the Lowestoft Energy Challenge were honoured on Friday with the project - a first for the UK - being hailed an overwhelming success.

SHOWCASING the talents of young people in Lowestoft, a special celebratory event has marked the achievements of an 18-month pilot project in the town.

And the youngsters who took part in the Lowestoft Energy Challenge were honoured on Friday with the project - a first for the UK - being hailed an overwhelming success.

Ever since the initiative was launched, which has been supported by NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) and Make Your Mark, representatives and students from Lowestoft College, Denes High School and the Poplars Primary School have been involved in the challenge.

Aimed to develop young people's awareness of energy and climate change the project revolved around youngsters setting themselves up as energy consultants. This led them to look at ways in which they could use less energy and save money on bills. Following workshops, enterprise training, trips and guest speakers into schools, the students made a bid for money in April 2008 to fund their own sustainable energy projects.

“The project gave the students the opportunity to enhance their skills through research, project management, and allowed them to be creative thinkers by looking at ways of saving their school or college money on their energy bills,” Cheryl Willis, Enterprise Lowestoft project manager said. “To watch all the students grow in confidence and show excitement at being part of the project for the past 18 months has been fantastic.”

The youngsters pitched their ideas to a panel of experts and representatives from Make Your Mark as they bid for monies from NESTA's Challenge Fund.

The Denes bid for a wind turbine, Poplars explored ways renewable energy could be used in the future, while Lowestoft College students decided to create a waste material sculpture to alert the community to waste, to convert cars to bio fuel and compress wood shavings to make briquettes for fires and barbecues. Denes were awarded £25,000, Poplars £2,000 and the college £16,000.

Poplars aim to erect mini wind turbines in the school grounds and surveys are being conducted at Denes so that they can erect a wind turbine, while the college students designed an internal sculpture called SEA (Sourcing Energy Alternatives).

At the celebration event at OrbisEnergy more than 120 people - including pupils from Foxborough Middle School, St Mary's Primary School and sixth form students - mingled with parents, governors, officials from Waveney District and Suffolk County Councils and key figureheads involved in the project to celebrate the success.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard was guest speaker and he told The Journal: “The energy challenge is the most important challenge facing the world - how to make sure we have the energy we need to survive, but to produce it in a way such that we don't destroy ourselves through global warming. I'm delighted that this project has focused local young people's minds on finding solutions, especially because Lowestoft has a big part to play as a leading centre for new technologies involved in offshore renewable energy.

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