• Orla Grant
  • 3 min read

Jessica Kelly, a fifth-year student in Loreto Abbey Dalkey in Co. Dublin, is this year’s SEAI Emerging Sustainable Energy Champion award winner.

Jessica was nominated by Dalkey Tidy Towns Group, who invited her to speak at its ‘Save Energy Show’ in March 2020. 

Jessica has had an interest in sustainability since a young age. When living in California, she presented a project entitled ‘pedal power’ at her school's science fair. Jessica’s project explored the possibility of using the kinetic energy generated from cycling to keep a water bottle cold. 

Once back in Ireland, Jessica’s interest grew, and she attended ‘Youth Saving Our Seas Conference’ in Malta along with other members from her scout group. At school, Jessica is a member of Loreto’s Green Schools’ committee and has taken part in efforts to cut down on commuting emissions and energy usage in her school community. A member of the student council and model UN delegation, Jessica is also captain of her school’s ‘Concern’ senior debating team. She debated the motion ‘Nuclear power is essential for a clean energy future’ in a competition this year, which only further fuelled her interest in sustainable energy. 

Save Energy Show

All of this admirable work led to her teacher nominating her to speak at the ‘Save Energy Show’.  Frank Dillon, Dalkey Tidy Towns, explains that when the group were invited to join the Sustainable Energy Community Network, they hosted an event to launch it. The ‘Save Energy Show’ was developed to inform and educate local businesses and residents about sustainable energy and almost 500 people attended.  

Frank said when it came to finding speakers for the event, they wanted a range of age groups and were recommended Jessica Kelly by her Transition Year teacher. “We were very impressed with how she spoke at our show. With young champions like this, our sustainable energy goals will be achieved by everybody.” 

The show focused on topics such saving energy and climate change, which Jessica spoke about. She highlighted that residential carbon emissions account for more than a fifth of all emissions, particularly relevant for attendees. She also spoke about the Government’s aim to generate 70% of residential electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Jessica emphasised the small changes we can all make to assist in the climate emergency, especially in our own homes. “If we as individuals want to save the planet, then we have to start by saving energy at home”, she said. 

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the award. It’s genuinely such a surprise but I’m over the moon and honoured. I hope that I can do it justice and continue to be an advocate for the environment in my community.”

Speaking out

Jessica says she was delighted to be invited to the Save Energy Show and that she’s one of those people “who always loved public speaking”. She said there was a great mix of people at it and she felt they were taking the voices of young people very seriously. She believes social media is another great way to learn and share information about sustainability but as with all information, users must be aware of ‘fake news’ and follow reputable sources. 

When asked what others can do to make changes in their energy habits, Jessica said “the most important part is taking an interest and then the rest is history”. She believes it’s important for people to find what fits their lifestyle rather than try to make radical changes all at once. 

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2020 SEAI Energy Awards

A total of ten awards were presented to individuals, businesses, communities, and public sector organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to sustainable energy and climate action.

The online awards ceremony was hosted by broadcast journalist, Andrea Gilligan, who was joined by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan T.D. for a special interview.

Read about our winners    Watch awards ceremony