Young scientist puts energy into conserving it

Posted on: 8th February, 2016

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

The winners of the 52nd BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition were announced in January. This year, Schull Community College came up trumps with four out of five of the school’s projects taking home awards from the Exhibition.

Noah McCarthy Fisher (16) won first prize in his section for his project: ‘What would it take? A study into the renewable energy needs of an Irish village.’

Noah’s project, which explored how feasible it would be for Ballydehob to become self-sufficient in sustainable energy such as wind and solar power was also recognised with the ‘Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice Award.

“Since I was very young, I have wanted to help the environment and invent something great,” says Noah. “Under EU law, by 2020 40 per cent of Ireland’s electricity must be coming from a renewable source and we’re only at 23 per cent at the moment.”

Although only 25 per cent of a household’s energy usage is electricity, 41 per cent of a houses’ carbon footprint is produced as a result of electricity generation.

Inspired by a reputable letter that he read in The Guardian newspaper, which called on governments around the world to invest in clean, renewable energy to avoid the irreversible damage caused by the continued use of fossil fuels, Noah set out on a quest to prove it was possible to make a small area sustainable. He chose Ballydehob, where he lives, as the study for his project.

Noah investigated the electricity consumption of the area along with the outputs of a variety of wind turbines and solar cells.

He downloaded weather data and predicted electricity production along with calculating the costs involved, selecting suitable sites for the turbine and solar cells that would be cheap and productive.

“The total costs of the project would be split between all the households and businesses in the area,” explains Noah. “A small loan would be taken for a period of four years. All the houses and businesses would then pay a monthly cost equal to their average monthly electricity bill.  As a result, the loan would be paid off within the four years and everyone would get virtually free electricity for the remainder of the project – 20 years!”

Noah has been invited to a fully expenses paid BTYS business bootcamp at DCU in March, where 25 students from the BTYS will be mentored on business innovation and entrepreneurship.

Interested in pursuing a career in environmental engineering, Noah is also an enthusiastic sailor and will be competing in the Topper World Championships this year.

Other Schull Community College award winners at this year’s Exhibition:

Culann McCarthy and Andrew Cahier were awarded third prize in The Intermediate Social and Behavioural Group for their project Hand Hygiene and Absenteeism.

Elyssa Curran and Aishling Connolly, who looked at the effect of worm compost on tree growth, came third in the Biological and Ecological Senior Group.

Martin Fleming and Luke Franklin were highly commended for their project on prawns and food safety.

The students were mentored by teachers Padraig O’Sullivan and Lara Kelly.

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