Miguel Angel Prado is CEO of EDP Renewables North America.
The recent challenges we’ve faced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that wind energy companies have had to reevaluate how we educate and engage stakeholders around our projects. We believed in the importance of building face-to-face relationships and meeting in-person to share information with members of the local community, but safety always comes first, so, this year, we’ve had to come up with new ways to interact with the public.
EDP Renewables (EDPR) has been a longtime sponsor of renewable energy education. We see it as a core piece of our business. This is evident in our enduring support of KidWind, an organization bringing hands-on renewable energy education to students and teachers across the country.
Naturally, KidWind has had to adjust in response to public health recommendations and the needs of parents who now have kids learning from home instead of at school. When the pandemic hit, there were more than 25 in-person events scheduled for students across the country that had to be cancelled. Now, KidWind has moved fully online and is offering new ways to educate and engage the public.
In April, EDPR and KidWind tested the new online learning experience with more than 100 EDPR employees by hosting a virtual “Work from Home with Your Kids Day” event, since the annual in-person tradition of bringing children to the workplace couldn’t happen. We offered free wind or solar kits to our staff and KidWind organized a live webinar to show our employees and their kids how to build them.
Building off this success, we are working with KidWind to offer free wind kits to parents and educators around our project communities. Using digital ads to target residents living near our wind farms, we are reaching new audiences and providing the opportunity for students to build their own functional model wind turbine at home. We may not be offering in-person wind farm tours or classroom visits at the moment, but students can still learn how wind energy works firsthand, helping them make sense of the wind farms they see every day in their communities.
In this spirit, EDPR is reworking how we engage the public and present wind energy education to our communities as the 2020 American Wind Week (AWW) goes fully virtual. Much like how our work with KidWind has had to adjust to a changing landscape, we’re foregoing the in-person events at our facilities across the nation that previously made up the core of AWW. In lieu of these events, we’re offering a virtual tour of two of our wind farms in Oklahoma as well as other resources for online learning. We’re also supporting KidWind’s three-day virtual Recharge Academy during American Wind Week to train teachers from across the country on how to bring KidWind activities into their classrooms.
I’m proud to work at EDPR because we welcome the opportunity to teach the world about wind. Always, but especially during American Wind Week on August 9-15, I urge our peers to support programs like KidWind and other renewables education initiatives to show students and others how they can be a part of the industry and change the world — starting right at home.