To address talent development opportunities and inequities, the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Hydropower Foundation (HF) kicked off a three-year partnership in Spring 2021 with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to facilitate regional collaboration and best practices in talent development and stakeholder engagement, using water power as the test case. The intent that a replicable model emerges from this work that can be implemented in multiple regions and across all clean energy technologies.
With BEF’s CE program as a focal point, the Water Power Clean Energy Talent Development Hub (CETDH) brings together hydropower and marine power industries, utilities, k-12 and post-secondary education partners, Tribes, and workforce development stakeholders to create a strategy to expand public awareness and understanding of the role of hydropower and other water power technologies in creating a resilient and equitable clean energy future.
The pilot will serve as a model that can be replicated and brought to classrooms across the nation to advance clean energy education from K-12 through college, with a special emphasis on reaching underserved communities. With BEF hosting the first CETDH, it will develop and support educators across the region in getting the word out about clean energy, starting with a focus on hydropower and marine renewable energy. The program aims to promote equitable education through local engagement while creating awareness of and access to clean energy career options for future generations.
If you'd like to sign up for updates or to become an active partner - please fill out this interest form.
Why water power?
As indicated in DOE’s Hydropower Vision Report and Workforce Development for U.S. Hydropower report, the average age of hydropower workforce employees is older than workforces in most energy sectors and has a greater risk of knowledge loss as the more experienced workers in the industry retire.
With a significant portion of the hydropower workforce retiring in the coming decade, the need to fill the workforce funnel has never been more critical. Additionally, new low impact hydropower and other water power technologies such as marine renewable energy are growing rapidly.
As clean energy technology development and deployment grows, there is an increased need for agile, tech-savvy talent to spur innovation and support industry needs, while at the same time there is an inequity of access to opportunities in early workforce/talent development especially among girls and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other people of color) students in STEM topics and career pathways.
The Talent Development Hub will work to improve opportunities for students so that they can meet their potential for success in the workforce.
Regionally -Specific Activities for the water power CETDH
This collaboration with DOE, NREL and Hydropower Foundation and PNW partners, key activities include:
- Raising Awareness, Teacher Leadership + Industry Connections - via CE’s Clean Energy Fellows water power educators and existing industry/educational networks, convening opportunities, and education resources; identify/filling gaps as appropriate
- K-12 Educational Content Support - this includes leveraging existing resources and developing resources with partners where gaps are identified by Tribes and stakeholders
- Regional Research Project/Analysis Support – working to support NREL and the national labs, universities and bridging between industry R&D, post-secondary education and K-12 education
- Marine and Hydropower Collegiate Competition Support - working to support NREL/DOE and helping get the word out, engage educators and students
Water Power STEM and CTE Resources
The CE team and participating Clean Energy Fellows are gathering water power resources and are always looking for more! We are contributing our robust regional resources to the water STEM online portals being developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory so that folks around the country can utilize them. Check out the water STEM portals at the links below:
- The STEM for Hydropower portal includes hydropower education and training programs, hydropower curricula and training materials, and a hydropower career pathways page that offers day-in-the-life videos, career profiles, and case studies.
- The STEM for Marine Energy portal includes marine education and training programs, marine curricula and training materials, and marine energy career pathways page that offers day-in-the-life videos, career profiles, and case studies.
- Northwest Hydroelectric Association's (NWHA) Hydropower Ambassadors program provides a way for PNW educators and hydropower industry professionals to connect students to regional careers. Hydropower Ambassadors are industry volunteers who give in-person (or virtual if need be) presentations to students, advise educators on industry realities and real-world applications, and support career-connected STEM education activities like engineering challenges, career fairs, or other STEM activities.
- NEW! Hydropower Collegiate Competition! To pave the way for next-generation workers to start their careers in clean energy, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in partnership with the Hydropower Foundation, have established the Hydropower Collegiate Competition (HCC). In its first year, HCC calls on interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of academic programs with offering unique solutions to complex hydropower challenges. Learn more here.
The CETDH pilot is already transforming the educational landscape. The Northwest Hydroelectric Association is forming a team of hydropower ambassadors, industry volunteers who will support K-12 education on hydropower career pathways and different forms and applications of hydropower technology. College-level competitions are also in the works to inspire students to pursue clean energy careers. What’s more, DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office has created a web portal called Open Energy Information that provides resources for energy educators. This community-driven website offers a collection of information and data from a wide variety of contributors where users can view, add or download resources for free. The Hydropower STEM Portal is available here, and the Marine Energy STEM Portal can be found here.
How to Get Involved
Do you have existing water power projects and/or programs? STEM/CTE educational resources for water power? Does your utility/company have any water power related energy projects and research that may inspire the next generation?
We'd love to learn more about your organization, program or initiatives and will follow up with you to connect!
Learn more about how to join nationwide efforts for Building a Talented and Inclusive Water Power Workforce (National Hydropower Association article).
If you'd like to sign up for updates or to become an active partner in the Pacific Northwest - please fill out this interest form.
Support for regional activities for the CETDH work provided by:
Bonneville Power Administration
Technology Innovation fosters national clean energy education program
August 2021—Bonneville Power Administration press release