Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

Out ahead on solar energy, Minnesota engineer is still pushing to speed up change

 By Neal St. Anthony, Minneapolis Star Tribune

John Dunlop launched his renewable-energy career amid oil embargos and the fledgling environmental movement of the 1970s. The 45-year renewable-energy pioneer, who’s an engineer and physicist, drives an electric-powered vehicle, lives modestly, speaks softly but authoritatively about the growing promise of a low-carbon economy increasingly powered by wind, sun and smart technology. His fact-based view has been vindicated. We face a tremendous environmental challenge and economic opportunity. Dunlop will chair the annual national conference of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) in Bloomington this week.
Continue reading here.

About American Solar Energy Society
Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) advocates for sustainable living and 100% renewable energy by sharing information, events and resources to cultivate community and power progress. ASES integrates the perspectives of science, industry, policy and citizens. We believe knowledge and community are a powerful combination for change. Our members look to us to sustain the culture required to achieve a 100% renewable energy future. Through our programs, Solar Today magazineASES Solar ConferencesASES National Solar Tour, and Tiny Watts, we engage individuals, businesses and partnering groups to advance these possibilities.

Stepping Into The Sun: A Mission To Bring Solar Energy To Communities Of Color

By Andrea Hsu, National Public Radio Special Series
Getting to Zero Carbon: The Climate Challenge

Solar energy has taken off across the U.S. As an African American working in the industry, Jason Carney wants to make sure minority communities don’t miss out on the energy savings or the green jobs.

In early June, Nashville’s Metro Council approved a trio of bills that supporters are hailing as the city’s own Green New Deal. The legislation sets a 100% renewable energy target for the metro government, requires government vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2050 and also introduces new green building standards for government buildings. “So there are still these seeds of what can happen tomorrow,” Carney says. “But we’ve got to keep pressing.” Read more here.

Photo: The 40-panel solar installation at Whites Creek High School in north Nashville was paid for by grants and donations and designed and built largely by students under Jason Carney’s supervision. Credit: Andrea Hsu / NPR. View more photos with the article.

Resource for Farmland Owners: Understanding Important Solar Lease Terms

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program, Ohio Country Journal

We wanted to highlight some of the important provisions of a solar lease that you as a farmland owner should look for in your solar lease, and understand what they mean. A good solar lease will be very thorough, and include a lot of legalese. It would be a wise decision to consult with an attorney to ensure that your understanding of your solar lease reflects what the documents say. For now, here are a few provisions to be on the lookout for in your solar lease. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: American Public Power Association

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solar Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA
Wind Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA

IN NEBRASKA

NextEra looking into potential solar farm in northeast Nebraska, Lincoln Journal Star
NextEra has signed a lease for 2,500 acres in Pierce County with brothers Ryan and Aaron Zimmerman, who have a 345-kilovolt Nebraska Public Power District power line running through their land. The brothers told the Energy News Network website that they previously had an agreement with a smaller solar company a couple of years ago.

LEARN HOW TO INSTALL YOUR OWN SOLAR SYSTEM & SAVE MONEY 

Solar Design and Installation Hands-On Workshop: Nebraska Extension & Dixon Power Systems
July 17th – 19th

Registration due by July 8th.
Cost: $300

Summer Fun for All Ages: A Booklet of Sun & Wind Activities

Sun & Wind Activities For You & Your Family

From Nebraska Solar Schools
A Nebraskans for Solar Program

This little booklet was available at Nebraska Solar Schools’ table during 2019 Earth Day events sponsored by various organizations, and Nature Nights at Omaha-area schools organized and hosted by Austen Hill, Education Director at the Papio-Missouri River NRD. A slightly-revised version, with a link to a PBS video demonstrating how to make a solar cooker and s’mores, is now available for download here.

Lego builds its way to 100% renewables – with its own pieces

Smart Energy International

The company’s transition was originally expected to be reached by 2022, but it became possible to complete the transition sooner, thanks to the completion of a 258MW offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea. Lego has 42 offices around the world, and remains a major influence in culture across generations. Read more here.

RE100: Lego became a member in May 2017. RE100 is a global corporate leadership initiative bringing together leading companies committed to 100% renewable electricity.

Lego Wind Turbine Kit Developed in Partnership With Vestas 

In 2018 Lego “released a fully-functional Lego wind turbine playset, “which allows budding engineers a chance to see the technology in effect, rather than theory.” The Lego bricks are made from a plant-based material sourced from sugarcane. Lego’s ultimate goal is to produce all their products and packaging with sustainable materials by 2030.


Also Of Potential Interest to Teachers

Lego is now on DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit organization that connects public school classrooms with the community to help fund student learning. Find out more about posting your classroom project to DonorsChoose.org and raising funds to benefit your classroom.

Lego’s List of Popular Educational Grant Providers

Nebraska Solar Schools Grant

Nebraska Solar Schools, a Nebraskans for Solar program, is offering 100 NEED Solar Energy Kits to up to 100 Nebraska public and non-public schools. The kits provide K-12 teachers a convenient and fun way to incorporate more solar energy education into their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programs.

Teacher and student curriculum guides are available for free download and review at the following links, as well as descriptions of each grade-level solar kit:

The Sun and Its Energy: Grades K-2
Wonders of the Sun: Grades 3-5
Energy from the Sun: Grades 6-8
Exploring Photovoltaics: Grades 9-12

Click here to learn more.

Nebraska uniquely positioned

By David Bracht, West Point native and director of the
Nebraska Energy Office from 2015-2018, Norfolk Daily News

OMAHA — Clean and affordable wind energy is powering homes and fueling economic growth. In 2018, no other state grew its wind energy capacity faster than Nebraska, and in 2019 no state is better positioned than Nebraska to reap the benefits associated with this important renewable energy resource. In past generations, states with significant fossil fuel resources — namely coal and oil —could count on jobs, tax revenue, and opportunity as those resources were developed. While not devoid of traditional energy resources, Nebraska has never topped the list of fossil fuel states. But we are at the top when it comes to wind — and that has major positive implications for our future. Continue reading here.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

UNIVERSITY NEWS

NU’s Engineers Without Borders clean up club’s adopted Lincoln stream, by Faith Idachaba, The Daily Nebraskan. The students at the University of Nebraska system focus on solar panel installation in Madagascar and a bridge project in Zambia, according to chapter president and senior civil engineering major Capri Keeler. Domestically, EWB-NU adopted a stream in October 2013 through the Nebraska Wildlife Federation Adopt a Stream program. The program is designed to educate Nebraskans about conservation, according to its official website.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

  • Kearney, Lexington, Loup City helping spearhead solar schools project, The Kearney Hub
    OMAHA — Nebraska Solar Schools has been awarded $31,250 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a pilot project within its Solar Energy Education and Development Program: 100 Solar Energy Kits for 100 Nebraska Schools. The focus of the new pilot project is on K-12 schools in Nebraska towns and cities that have developed or plan to develop solar projects, including rooftop solar, solar farms or other installations. 
  • Moving Ahead on Minnesota Clean Energy Legislation, Union of Concerned Scientists
    Championed by Rep. Jean Wagenius and other legislative leaders, the House legislation would create the Solar For Schools Program and appropriate $16 million from the state’s renewable development funds to install solar at schools (the Senate version includes funding for this program, although at a much lower level).
  • Solar schools: Stanford research examines overlooked benefits of solar panels on U.S. campuses. Rooftop solar projects at schools could reduce harmful air pollution, help the environment and enhance student learning while cutting electricity costs, a new study finds. Overall, the energy switch could deliver benefits valued at $4 billion.

RENEWABLE ENERGY AGGREGATION

In Texas, aggregating public demand is pushing renewables to ‘record low prices’, Utility Dive
The Texas Renewable Energy Co-op (TREC) has received multiple bids for wholesale electricity below its $0.03/kWh target on 12-year contracts, according to the state-selected facilitator tapped to develop a new procurement option for municipal entities, school districts, utility districts, water authorities, state agencies and universities.

BATTERIES 

Green Mountain Power pilots Tesla batteries as meters, Utility Dive

Lincoln neighborhood solar farm turns entrepreneurs into pioneers

By Mason Mauro

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) — Capitol Beach Lake neighborhood in Lincoln is living off solar
energy. The co-founders of Beach Solar LLC began the community effort in 2015. Two entrepreneurs began the solar project from the ground up, but the community effort is what’s seeing it through.

“This is something that is better for our future and for our kids’ kids. Let’s do it,” said Jeff Burhman, co-founder of Beach Solar. Burhman and his business partner, Terry Wittler, stopped at UNO along their solar power tour, Wednesday night. The discussion is their 12th seminar, but they never set out for this. Continue reading or watch the news story here.

Click here to view a Google Earth image of the solar project.

Thank you to everyone who attended our event this evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center!

First of all, thank you to our guest speakers for their excellent presentation on Nebraska’s first-ever community solar project developed by a neighborhood association: Terry Wittler and Jeff Buhrman, Lincoln Capitol Beach homeowners, led the association’s efforts to pioneer this
innovative model for our state.

Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric and Nebraskans for Solar board member,
collaborated with Terry and Jeff on the project and joined them for part of the program this evening. The challenges they encountered and the lessons learned resulted in a time-saving plan for anyone interested in proposing the same idea to other power districts.

The discussion that followed their presentation generated many insightful questions and
comments from audience members. Thank you to everyone who attended.

Michael Shonka’s contact information is listed in Nebraskans for Solar’s Directory for anyone with additional questions.

Terry Wittler may be reached at the following email address: terrywittler@gmail.com.

Photo by David Corbin

Thank you to everyone who attended our event last evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center!

First of all, thank you to our speakers: Anna Noucas, Project Development Manager at Sol Systems, based in Washington DC, and Jeff Berggren, Nebraska Program Manager for GenPro Energy Solutions, headquartered in Piedmont, South Dakota.

They provided excellent presentations on a large number of solar projects completed throughout our state and others in the development or planning stage. As their slides demonstrated, solar energy projects have increased exponentially throughout Nebraska over the past several years. Each of these projects contributes tax revenues to our local communities, benefiting our state’s overall economy, while growing jobs.

The discussion that followed their presentations generated numerous insightful questions from audience members. Thank you to all our attendees, who were mainly from Omaha and Bellevue but also included people from Lincoln, Central City, Elkhorn, Bennington and Council Bluffs.

We also wish to thank two special guests, who contributed their professional expertise to the discussion:

  • David Bracht, former Director of the Nebraska Energy Office, who in August 2018 rejoined the law firm Kutack Rock and whose practices include renewable energy and agribusiness.
  • Cliff Mesner, from Mesner Solar Development in Central City, who has completed utility scale projects in Nebraska, starting with Nebraska’s first-ever community solar project in Central City.

NFS invites all four of them back for a future panel presentation and update on our state’s growing renewable energy development.

FEBRUARY EVENT

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us again in February when our speakers will discuss a Lincoln neighborhood association’s community solar project, a first for Nebraska!

Lincoln’s Capitol Beach Community Solar Project – A Showcase Model for Nebraska
UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Rooms 230/231. February 13, 2019 – 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Presenters
Terry Wittler & Jeff Buhrman, Capitol Beach LLC
Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric
Click here to view a Google Earth image of the solar project.
A Q&A will follow their presentation. All our events are open to the public. If you belong to a neighborhood association, please share the event with other members.

FEBRUARY BOOK DRAWING

We will hold another book drawing at our February event. for ten copies of the Solar Electricity Handbook – 2019 Edition, by Michael Boxwell

The Solar Electricity Handbook is a simple, practical guide to using electric solar panels and designing and installing photovoltaic PV systems. Now in its thirteenth edition, the 2019 Edition assumes no previous knowledge of solar electric systems. The book explains how photovoltaic panels work and how they can be used. It provides a step by step guide to successfully design and install a photovoltaic solar system from scratch.

Solar training and certification is a journey, not a destination

By Solar Energy International, Solar Power World Contributor

“How long will it take me to get NABCEP-certified?” If we had a dollar for every time we heard that question from potential students here at Solar Energy International (SEI), we would never have to have another giving-campaign for our non-profit school’s operations. As solar
educators, we love talking with training program candidates about their career goals and
helping them choose a program track that fits their expectations. However, we often first have to address the common misconceptions for what it takes to get into the solar industry and be
successful in a rewarding career. Continue reading here.

Solar Energy International will be contributing training columns to Solar Power World throughout the next year.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION

FREE SEI ONLINE COURSE
RE100 Introduction to Renewable Energy is a free course that covers the basics of renewable energy, and is a great introduction for those new to the field, those who are looking to make a career change, or those who just want to learn more about energy from the sun, wind, and water, energy efficiency, and the basics of electricity. Upon completion of the course – with good quiz grades – you will receive a printable SEI Record of Completion. RE100 is made up of ten lessons, each containing a lecture-capture video presentation by an SEI instructor, readings, a quiz, and discussion forums. Your work will be saved as you go and you can return to it later for up to six weeks after you register.