An Intern’s Reflection

Saturday, 20 Jul 2019

My name is Daniel Hay-Hendry and I am an Environmental Engineering student from Murdoch University in Perth. I have just completed a 6 weeks internship with the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) as part of my New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship.

In 2018, I received the NCP Scholarship, this is an initiative by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to increase the knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region within Australia and create a network of people to people relationships. It does this by supporting Australian undergraduate students to undertake study, internships or mentorships within the region. This Scholarship has allowed me to work, study and travel for the last year. During this time, I studied Civil and Environmental Engineering at Kyushu University in Japan, worked for a consultancy in Mongolia, and an engineering firm in China. I have been lucky enough to finish my scholarship program with an internship at the PCREEE. Here I have been able put some of the skills I have gained from previous experiences to use, while building upon my knowledge base and developing new skills.

I have found my time with the PCREEE incredibly valuable. Working or studying in a new country can be a challenge, but the inclusive culture at the PCREEE made it possible for me to hit the ground running. Wasting no time, gaining knowledge of the energy sector, policy, public awareness campaigns and Tongan culture. 

A key objective of the PCREEE is building the capacity of the private sector. Private sector growth around renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) requires raising awareness and providing training so that opportunities that arise from the growing ‘Sustainable Energy’ market can be met locally. This provides jobs and stimulates economic growth, as well as increasing the adoption of RE and EE in the Pacific helping countries meet their energy targets. I have been involved in two major projects: conducting an energy audit on the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Chnage and Communication (MEIDECC) building to act as a case study for future Ministry audits and in energy audit training for the private sector; and RE and EE workshops for secondary schools across Tongatapu. Energy audits mean that local businesses will have the opportunity to identify where energy is used and receive recommendations to reduce their consumption. The secondary school workshops promote RE and EE as well as highlighting the energy sector as a career path for students and the importance of gender equality within it. The program will be expanded to the outer islands and other Pacific Countries in the future.

Although the Pacific Island Countries and Territories are among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, they are among the most vulnerable to Climate Change. The rising sea level, warming ocean, and increase in frequency and intensity of climate related disasters means that homes and livelihoods across the region are under real threat. This makes the role of the PCREEE and other organisations in the region so important. My internship with PCREEE has allowed me a real insight into the work going into RE and EE and tackling Climate Change. It has spark an interest for future studies where I hope to be able to further assist the people of the Pacific.

I would like to thank PCREEE for giving me this opportunity and my colleagues for sharing their knowledge and offering support. Without there assistance I would not have been able to get as much from the internship as I have. I look forward to following the great work that the PCREEE is doing into the future.

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