The future is bright – how young people view our energy future

There’s a lot happening in the world right now that makes the idea of totally tuning out sound pretty appealing. But, even with all the challenges of being a young person in today’s world, much of this generation seems to be kicking apathy to the curb and informing themselves on important issues.

Including the future of energy.

We recently had a chance to chat with Meredith Adler, executive director of Student Energy, on how young people are approaching our energy future. Meredith knows her stuff, and because Student Energy works with young people around the world, she has a unique line into the topic.

Here are 5 things we learned talking to Meredith.

Young people are engaged

Young people are highly engaged in the discussion about energy, the environment and how both can be managed for a sustainable future. And, when you think about it that isn’t surprising – millennials and those younger have a really large stake in our current and future energy environment. Groups like Student Energy help facilitate this discussion and create the next generation of energy leaders through events and programs to foster energy literacy and help people understand the energy system.

A generation of outside-the-box-thinkers

Young people bring outside-the-box thinking to the table – especially people in their 20s and their 30s who have grown up in the digital age. This openness and willingness to collaborate around innovation is something energy companies can take advantage of.

Willing to seek solutions

Some parents might find this hard to believe – but today’s young people are willing to collaborate and work together to find solutions to problems. Meredith notes that there is a greater sense of urgency among young people, but they don’t see the future as a tradeoff between energy and the environment. They’re much more interested in innovative solutions than polarizing debates; but they do view the transition to renewable energy as inevitable.

Open to new ideas

While they strongly believe that a transition to renewable energy must happen, young people, especially those involved with Student Energy, are open to ideas when it comes to the type of renewable energy that is adopted. While solar and wind seem to get the most attention, young people are more interested in avoiding climate change than choosing a particular technology.

So, what about pipelines?

There is a wide range of opinions among young people about the future of energy and existing infrastructure. They envision a future that includes the strong economy Canada has today, but with an increased focus on protecting the environment. Pipelines, as the lowest carbon method of transporting oil and gas, will be important in the transition to a lower-carbon future.

They also recognize that transitioning to an energy system based primarily on renewables will take time, as Meredith put it “If young people want to have an electrified future, there’s a long way to go; it won’t happen overnight. And young people wouldn’t want to see a coal buildup for electricity.”

Student Energy is a global charity building the next generation of energy leaders, and remains committed to keeping the debate lively, moving forward and being as collaborative as possible. Using a host of various initiatives, programs and events Student Energy encourages youth engagement with energy: in the industry, in global forums and in their communities.