In an effort to shed light on the often-overlooked world of hydropower, a new hydro-themed edition of the Spark Squad Comic Book series has been unveiled. This unique initiative, led by experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), seeks to educate readers, young and old alike, about the vital role of hydropower in our clean energy future.
The Spark Squad Comic Book series, known for its focus on renewable energy, introduces readers to a group of young adventurers who explore various forms of clean energy. The first edition captivated audiences with its depiction of wave energy powering a boat through a turbulent storm. Now, in its second installment, the Spark Squad embarks on a journey to Georgia's Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake, uncovering the world of hydropower along the way.
Jennifer Daw, a water power group manager and senior researcher at NREL, believes that this comic book is a powerful tool for making hydropower more visible. "Hydropower—it has to be more than just a dam," says one of the comic's characters. The story goes beyond dams, delving into the intricate mechanisms and environmental considerations of modern hydropower.
The choice to focus on hydropower comes as the industry grapples with misconceptions and a need for a new, diverse workforce to replace retiring experts. By engaging younger generations through engaging narratives like the Spark Squad Comic Book, the hope is to attract new talent and interest in this vital sector.
Elise DeGeorge, a project leader for wind and water power workforce development at NREL, emphasizes the importance of reaching out to communities. "You can't just talk to the student," she explains. "You have to reach the communities."
The comic book initiative has already gained traction, with printed versions flying off the shelves at recent conferences and the virtual version going viral. It provides a fresh perspective on hydropower careers, showcasing underwater welders, plant engineers, and biologists working together to ensure the health of both the industry and the environment.
You can download the Spark Squad comic book series here.
Image: Jennifer Daw, Elise DeGeorge, and Michael Ingram helped put together the second volume of the Spark Squad Comic Book, which features a group of kids on a hydropower adventure. Graphic by Chromosphere