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Climate Change – Mitigation and Adaptation: Is the answer blowing in the wind and shining down on us?

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Minimum time required

30 minutes

Learning objectives

  • To use information to form an opinion on the benefits and drawbacks of wind and solar PV energy in the UK

Resources needed

Methodology and teacher’s notes

This activity provides students with statements about wind and solar energy that are based on factual information, and use the ‘diamond-9 ranking’ to formulate an opinion about the extent these form of renewable are good ways to mitigate climate change. NB: for solar, the focus is on solar photovoltaic (PV) energy, and not solar thermal (see glossary).

The methodology below assumes an approach where each student themselves evaluate both wind and solar energy. But you can approach this activity in different ways. You could have half the class focus on wind, and the other on solar, then they share there thoughts afterwards in a class discussion. You could also print the resources A3 size and they can work on the diamond-9s in groups.

  1. Hand out the ‘Diamond-9 ranking cards for cutting out’ worksheet to students. Before they cut them out, they can choose two colours to shade in, and/or write a plus (+) or minus (-) on, the statements they feel are ‘benefits’ and which are ‘drawbacks’.
  2. Hand out ‘Wind energy & Solar PV energy diamond-9 ranking worksheets’. Students to consider the relative importance of each statement using their own opinions. Using the ‘Teachers information sheet’, you can provide them with further information to support their thinking. It’s important that students know that where they place their nine statements on the diamond-9 is up to them and there is no right or wrong answer. Once students are settled with their opinions, they can glue the statements in place and then answer the prompts on the worksheet and think about the statements at the bottom of each page.
  3. Lead a class discussion using the two statements at the bottom of the worksheet pages. Encourage students to use their diamond-9s to justify their opinions.

Further challenge and extension

The relative cost of energy sources has been one of the major drivers of an accelerated shift towards wind and solar PV energy. A very interesting graphic from Our World In Data (‘Relative cost of energy sources’) could be explored by students to see both how much they have changed in just a six-year period, and how these costs compare with fossil fuels. Preparing some questions using this graph would be very good practise at analysing a piece of ‘unfamiliar’ data presentation.

Students can also give a listen to the BBC’s Digital Planet podcast episode that was broadcasted on 23 June 2020. From 23:43, a segment explores some energy storage solutions that could help support the growing number of solar PV farms coming online. It is only an 8 minute listen, after which students can think about whether this new information about advancing battery technology would change their thinking on the solar PV diamond-9 ranking.

References, sources and credits:

References for this activity can be found on the ‘Teacher information: Diamond 9 statements for wind and solar energy’ sheet.

View the other lessons in this series:

Access this unit’s homepage.

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