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As participants in Siemen Energy’s Just Energy Transition (JET) Hackathon, high school students from Guateng, South Africa, have taken on the challenge to learn, innovate and lead society’s transition to a net-zero future

Interaction 2Students from Curro Academy Parkdene hard at work. (Image source: Siemens Energy)

Thabo Molekoa, managing director of Siemens Energy in South Africa, welcomed 28 top students from seven high schools to the challenge. He called the youth’s contribution to the development of “sustainable, affordable and reliable” green energy technologies “critical”, not only for the future of the planet but also for the stability of the global economy. 

Contestants were set the task of solving a data centre energy challenge puzzle. Each team had to find innovative ways to power up as many servers as possible in a virtual data centre while keeping CO2 emissions and costs down whilst maintaining adequate energy generation and employment levels. Their virtual data centres could be powered up by a combination of renewables, hydrogen and gas energy. 

“It is incredibly important that we involve creative young people with fresh ideas and problem-solving mindsets in our critical mission to help save the planet through innovative technologies,” said Molekoa. 

“The energy transition is quickly gaining speed with world economies rushing to create that foundation needed to shift their energy systems. Such a shift requires innovation, knowledge and continuous revolution in training and education. Our young people must be made part of the process as early as possible. Initiatives like this one provide this next generation of energy professionals with valuable opportunities to learn and lead in the energy transition.”

The hackathon was joined by learners from Leap Science and Maths Schools in Diepsloot and Alexandra, St Barnabas School of Specialisation in Randburg,  Parktown High School for Girls in Parkview, John Orr Technical High School in Milpark, Curro Academy Parkdene High School in Boksburg, Midstream College in Midrand, and Woodhill College in Pretoria. 

Woodhill College won the challenge with their highly efficient innovation, followed closely by Parktown High School for Girls, and Leap Science and Maths School in third place. 

Molekoa said Woodhill College impressed the judges with its phased approach away from coal, the clever mix of jobs and skill levels they built into their renewable energy plan, and the combination of technologies they used including solar, wind, biomass, and specifically biogas waste to produce silicone. Their plan also carefully considered the costs of their proposed technologies. 

Prizes included Siemens Energy bursaries for the winning team and all participants received a certificate of participation. 

Molekoa said Siemens Energy South Africa hosted events such as these to inspire and encourage young people to use new technologies and collaborate on the development of green technologies. 

“I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the skill, talent, and ingenuity of these bright young minds. I am extremely optimistic and confident for the future knowing that these students will soon be joining the ranks of companies like ours to tackle the energy challenges of the future,” Molekoa said.