A new children’s book by a Canberra-based clean technology researcher is hoping to use the power of analogy to convey a positive message about the energy transition and the shift to clean energy.
Amy’s Balancing Act follows the story of Amy – a young girl who is responsible for delivering the mail across the fictional island of Energeia.
Amy – whose name is a reference to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) – has long been dependent on her packhorse Clyde to carry the mail as it is delivered across Energeia.
But as Clyde begins to age and struggle in the heat, Amy turns to a number of her other animal friends to complete the task. This includes the help of a sunbaking goanna, a wind riding albatross, and the strategic use of a sugar glider’s tree hollows as mail storage – to successfully deliver the mail without interruption.
The book delivers an analogy for the transition to a diverse energy system, powered by a mix of clean energy sources and a shift away from dependence on ageing and centralised fossil fuel generators.
The book has been written by Bjorn Sturmberg, a Research Leader at the Australian National University’s Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program.
Sturmberg told RenewEconomy that he was motivated to use storytelling to deliver an optimistic message to young people that it is possible to transition to a cleaner economy.
“Our children are being born into the climate crisis and the energy transition. They will need to continue the decarbonisation journey and are clearly expressing their desire and impatience to get to accelerate this as soon as possible,” Sturmberg said.
“My hope is that this book lets children see how a brighter, cleaner future is possible and that the major hurdle to this is the very human condition of resistance to the unknown.”
Sturmberg said he wanted to write a book that communicated the essential aspects of the energy transition to children, breaking down the meaning behind the shift from ageing centralised electricity generators to a mix of clean energy technologies supported by storage.
“I wanted to tell the story of the energy transition in as inclusive a manner as possible. An illustrated children’s book is ideal for this, as it’s easy to understand for young and old. The story itself is also important,” Sturmberg said.
“Amy’s Balancing Act balances between not demonising fossil fuels – giving them credit for powering society for many years – while being clear that they are old, need to be retired, and can be safely replaced by a diverse mix of renewables and storage.”
The book is set to be illustrated by Laura Stitzel, an independent artist based in Melbourne, who has previously written and illustrated the books Moonlight Mums and Mr Mo Starts to Grow, as well as providing illustrations to a number of other children’s books and television series.
The book’s creators have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to finish the book’s design, its publication and the preparation of supporting educational resources for schools and libraries.
Sturmberg said that he had drawn on his own experiences as a researcher in new energy technologies and as a new father for motivation to write the book and to deliver an accessible way to tell the story of the energy transition to children.
“As someone working in the energy space, I want to provide a human angle to the experience of the transition. The story tries to capture how there are many good people working on maintaining a reliable energy supply whilst learning to work with a new set of technologies and the new considerations that they involve. At the centre of this is the AEMO, who in the book is represented by the book’s heroine, Amy,” Sturmberg said.
“The essence of the story came to me three years ago on a late-night drive on the Hume, but it only really crystallised into a kids book upon recently becoming a father.”
“Becoming a father has made me place more value and emphasis on the moral aspects of the fable: of embracing diversity, of managing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and being flexible rather than fixated on rigid control,” Sturmberg added.
The Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of Amy’s Balancing Act is hoping to raise funds need to fund the completion of illustrations and pre-orders of the book are available.