University of Western Australia: Britta a breath of fresh air in helping kids understand wind energy

Professor Britta Bienen, a specialist in offshore geotechnical engineering from The University of Western Australia, spends a lot of time researching the challenges in establishing offshore wind farms.

The researcher from UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems in the Oceans Graduates School had a very different audience recently as host of the first OffshoreWind4Kids demo day at the South Perth foreshore, helping children and their families create miniature versions of wind turbines.

“It’s important for kids to see what engineering can be,” Professor Bienen said. “Sometimes young people are excited about things that they see but don’t connect it with engineering. Being hands-on and trying things out really makes the connection for them.”

Professor Bienen said there was not a single offshore wind turbine in Australia yet but there were 19 projects planned, with four located in Western Australia.

“These are all quite large in the international context and will put the clean energy industry on the map in Australia,” she said.

One of these is the Leeuwin Offshore Wind Project, a 3000-megawatt project planned to be built off the Western Australia coastline, between Perth and Mandurah, by Danish renewable energy company Copenhagen Energy.

The windfarm is anticipated to generate up to 12TWh when complete, with construction expected to begin in the first quarter of 2026 and power officially being harnessed by 2028.

“One rotation of one of these turbines could power a household for a day or two and a whole wind farm of the size of what is being proposed can power one and a half million households,” Professor Bienen said.

The budding young turbine builders in South Perth were blessed by blustery gusts on the day of their activity and were able to see first-hand the link between technology, engineering, renewable energy and the power wind can bring.

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