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Ones to Watch: Aleida Powell

Aleida Day image
Aleida Powell has been using her studies to contribute to wider research which impacts her community.

A student with a passion for energy science is planning to use it for not just her own future but the country’s too.

Bachelor of Science (Honours) student Aleida Powell had a passion for chemistry and physics during her time at high school.

“My chemistry teacher always told us to pick something we love. At the time I loved chemistry and physics so I chose to study those. During my first year I found it a challenge to know how I could use these for my future and then I heard about the energy programme.”

Already Aleida has been using her studies to contribute to wider research which impacts her community.

“Over summer I did a summer studentship with Aurora Energy. I worked with them to investigate how Electric Kiwi student customers in the North Dunedin region impact the local network.”

Electric Kiwi offer customers a daily hour of free power for customers which can be scheduled for any off-peak time each day.

“This is appealing to students as their timetables mean they’re often home at off-peak times. This means students use their power quite differently.”

“Peak electricity is expensive and less sustainable so using power off-peak should be encouraged. What’s happened though is by moving customers off the peaks they’ve created new ones. As a result there is more maintenance required for things such as transformers in Dunedin.”

“It’s been cool to be helping with this research as a current student. It affects students so I think it’s important to have us involved and I know Aurora have had similar thoughts.”

“Being wiser with energy isn’t only the amount of time you use electricity for but also the times when people use it. If we all need it at the same time then things such as fossil fuels are required to meet demand.”

Aleida’s time studying over the summer months were an opportunity to further explore her career options. This year she is completing her honours in Energy Management.

“My honours project is looking at the Meridian model of the electricity system. We get to explore real data from the last 85 years. We also have the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) climate predictions. This models what the New Zealand electricity system will need to do in the next few years to meet the government’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. We are modelling these resources to see what demand response help lessen peak demand and better meet energy needs in an efficient way.”

The student, who grew up in Wellington, says over the past year her views on renewable energy have expanded.

“This time last year I didn’t really know all of this. I’ve since discovered this is part of the solution to things such as climate change. Last year my lecturer encouraged us to go to the climate change marches but also told us to ensure we go to our classes because the practical knowledge is what we need to make the biggest difference.”

“Being wiser with energy isn’t only the amount of time you use electricity for but also the times when people use it. If we all need it at the same time then things such as fossil fuels are required to meet demand.”

Aleida also encourages others to branch out and study Energy Science as it’s a subject which not many people necessarily plan to study but is necessary for the future.

“This is how we go about creating sustainable and efficient energy practises. Lower carbon emission in the future comes down to how we use our energy.”