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Aberdeen pupils heading to COP26 in Glasgow after winning hydrogen schools challenge

Two pupils from Aberdeen’s Cults Academy have made it through the local heats of the Scottish Schools’ Hydrogen Challenge and will now compete in the grand final at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference.

The lively challenge gave groups of three students two hours to build hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles using LEGO components, LEGO motors and custom-made miniature fuel cell power supplies.

The aim of the challenge, which saw more than 750 local pupils take part city-wide, was to design the most energy efficient vehicle. The car that travelled the farthest on the zero-emission fuel was named the winner.

The two pupils from Cults Academy came out on top with a distance of 32.5 metres and will now travel to Glasgow to take part in the grand final at the end of October during COP26.

COP, short for Conference of the Parties, brings together the United Nations’ 197 members each year to advance global efforts to prevent climate change. This year marks the 26th meeting, with countries due to finalise national action plans to cut emissions.

Pupils from nine other academies took part in the Aberdeen regional competition – Old Machar, Hazlehead, Cults, Northfield, St Machar, Dyce, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen Grammar, Bucksburn and Lochside.

The winners were presented with their first place certificate by Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing. She said: “I was delighted to announce Cults Academy as the winner of this exciting challenge, and I’d like to say a huge well done to everyone who took part today.

“Promoting STEM subjects to our future workforce is critical, and seeing these pupils getting creative and excited about low carbon solutions at such a young age is really encouraging.

“Building a hydrogen economy is a huge part of Aberdeen’s future and a journey we are already on. Many of the young people in our city will have been on one of our hydrogen buses and we want them to understand this is just one part of our story. The hydrogen industry is creating jobs and opportunities for their future, and ultimately building a cleaner, more sustainable world for generations to come.”

The Scottish Schools ‘Hydrogen Challenge is funded by Scottish Power, ITM Power and Arcola Energy. OPITO is the supporting partner for Aberdeen.

Andy Williamson, Head of Energy Transition at OPITO, said: “Aberdeen is uniquely placed to be a global leader in net zero energy skills that are critical to deliver the energy transition.

“Developing the enthusiasm, energy and skills needed to build a net zero energy future starts now. OPITO is delighted to support the Scottish Schools’ Hydrogen Challenge where we encourage the next generation to find the joy in problem solving, get hands-on with technology and inspire an all energy workforce for the future.”

The Scottish Schools’ Hydrogen Challenge has more than 7,000 pupils taking part from Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, Perth and Stirling.

It provides an exciting, engaging opportunity for young people to understand the important role hydrogen can play in a low carbon economy – how it can empower and fuel communities, create environmentally friendly jobs, build a sustainable supply chain and decarbonise transport and industry.