Community Friends’ first renewable energy project was a micro hydropower installation in the village of Waitalawa. With assistance from the World Bank, we helped the village install a modest and environmentally sensitive electricity generating capacity, taking advantage of the plentiful supply of locally available falling water.
Next, realizing the impact education would have on climate change solutions, we turned our attention to the children of the US, specifically Portland OR. Because Community Friends’ founders were already partnering with schools in the Portland area on solar energy projects. They helped finance the installation of solar panels on school roofs, decreasing the schools’ fossil fuel use with solar energy and providing renewable energy education to the students at these schools.
Community Friends’ first renewable energy education programs brought guest speakers to Portland-area classrooms. We partnered with a solar engineer who taught students about solar power and other renewable energies. Free demonstration solar panels were provided to classrooms and placed in the classroom window. These hand-held solar panels generate enough energy to charge a smart phone or other personal device.
We taught students about hydrogen fuel cells as another renewable energy option. Fuel cells extract hydrogen (H) from water (H20) and the hydrogen then creates electricity using a fuel cell. We acquired a hydrogen fuel cell model car that we demonstrated in classrooms. The model car uses water and a solar panel to create hydrogen that allows a hydrogen fuel cell to produce enough energy to run a small electric motor in the model car. We also developed the Carbon Game.
Our Carbon Game education programs soon expanded from Portland, Oregon to Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cambodia, and back to Sri Lanka. Community Friends’ education programs go wherever there is interest from a teacher or parent. Climate change is a global challenge and we have developed an education program that can travel anywhere, in any language, from a rural village to large city.