Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

“Solar Land Lease Considerations for Landowners” Webinar: Presented by Nebraska & Ohio Extension Specialists

Innovative Homes, Energy Careers Featured in New Virtual Sessions Offered by Solar Decathlon

Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® has inspired more than 450 collegiate teams and 23,000 students worldwide. In addition to the focus on tomorrow’s leaders, the Solar Decathlon has a foundational goal of providing educational programs and opportunities for the general public.

In September, the Solar Decathlon will start a new series of 10 virtual sessions with topics ranging from tours of houses with innovative designs to residential energy usage to jobs in the energy sector. Offered at no cost, these webinars are available to the general public and cater specifically to current and prospective homeowners, members of the real-estate industry, educators, students and young professionals, home builders, renovation contractors, and others interested in viewing state-of-the-art homes.

During a traditional Solar Decathlon Build Challenge event, thousands would converge on the educational tents to learn more about these topics. Through these monthly webinars, virtual “visitors” can access this exclusive content from the comfort of their homes.

Below are additional details on each planned webinar.

  • Solar 101 – How Solar Energy Works
    Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Discovering Clean Energy Careers
    Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • A Virtual Hands-On Energy Workshop for Families
    Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Solar Student Leaders of Tomorrow Showcase
    Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Resilient Home 411: Strategies to Weather and Recover from Natural Disasters
    Wednesday, January 20, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Zero Energy Ready Homes: New and Growing Fast
    Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • The Future of Solar: A Tour of Cutting-Edge Solar Research with the U.S. Department of Energy
    Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Team House Tour
    Friday, April 16, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Winning Solar Home – The DOE Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Winners
    Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The Design Challenge is a one-to-two-semester, design-only competition, while the Build Challenge is a multiyear design-build competition.

The most successful teams will complement architectural and engineering excellence with innovation, market potential, building efficiency, and smart on-site energy production. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon continues to “push the envelope” on the design of high-performance, efficient, affordable, innovative buildings while promoting student innovation, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities.

Additional details are on the Solar Decathlon website.

One Way to Retire Coal Plants: Buy Out the Owner

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Municipal and cooperative utilities may have an easier time retiring coal plants early.

In 2016, New Mexico’s Kit Carson Electric Cooperative left its long-standing power supply relationship with Colorado’s Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association behind. Kit Carson paid nearly $40 million to sever its relationship with Tri-State, after realizing it could save its customers even more money — $50 to $70 million — and get access to more renewables by contracting with Guzman Energy, a wholesale power provider. Since Kit Carson made a run for the door, numerous Tri-State members have considered the same.

Think tank Energy Innovation, in a new analysis released Tuesday in partnership with energy modeling company Vibrant Clean Energy, is elevating Kit Carson’s flight as a model for coal retirement that allows third-party, private financiers — including energy providers such as Guzman, investors or renewables developers — to push municipal and co-operative utilities toward more renewables. Continue reading here.

Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC is a nonpartisan energy and environmental policy firm. 

MORE GTM ARTICLES OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

  • Microsoft Eyes New Tool in Decarbonization Quest: Green Hydrogen
    The tech giant announced Monday that it recently powered a row of data center servers for 48 hours using nothing but hydrogen fuel cells, which it believes to be the longest such test in the world for a data center operator at that scale. Microsoft is expanding its hydrogen testing and intends to leverage its vast size and energy consumption to help the green hydrogen industry scale up, Brian Janous, the company’s general manager for environmental sustainability, said in an interview. Last week NextEra Energy, the largest U.S. generator of wind and solar power, revealed plans to build its first green hydrogen facility in Florida, to be fueled by solar power.
  • Trump Administration Announces Long-Delayed Nomination of Democrat to FERC
    Nomination of NRDC attorney Allison Clements alongside Virginia utility regulator Mark Christie could restore political balance to key U.S. agency.
  • FirstEnergy CEO Defends Utility Amid Bribery Scandal Questions
    The utility’s share price and credit ratings have taken a hit after it was implicated in an Ohio nuclear and coal bailout corruption investigation.

NEW WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE REPORT

41 states have reduced their carbon emissions while growing their economies, Fast Company
Since 2005, 41 states and Washington, D.C., have increased their GDPs while reducing their carbon emissions, debunking the myth that economic growth can only happen at the expense of our environment. A new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) analyzes how states have decoupled their GDP growth from emissions, which Devashree Saha, a senior associate at WRI, says is “a hopeful sign for the United States and for the planet.” 

MORE ON NEW EIA DATA

Renewables have outpaced nuclear and coal to start 2020, PV Magazine
In the latest edition of Electric Power Monthly, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that renewable resources have generated more electricity through May 31st than both coal and nuclear power.

AGGREGATED COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECTS

First downstate project through Illinois community solar program underway, Energy News Network. The first community solar project in downstate Illinois facilitated by the state’s 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act is now being built, showing both the potential of the wildly popular program and the challenges of implementing it. Washington D.C.-based Summit Ridge Energy won the rights to sell renewable energy credits for 18 projects in downstate Ameren utility territory and 23 in ComEd’s territory in northern Illinois. So far it’s signed up 8,479 customers to participate in the community solar installations — just over half the subscribers it needs to be fully subscribed. 

MIDWEST SOLAR SCHOOLS

C2 Energy Capital Works with Solar Partners to Guide a School Solar Project to Successful Completion, C2 Capital News Release, PRNewswire

“The average price of a school solar installation has dropped 67% in the last ten years, making solar energy a smart decision for schools’ budgets. The most important factor for a successful solar installation in a school is an experienced team. Together, our partners have installed solar on dozens of schools in the Midwest and we are proud of the level of expertise, quality, and service we can offer,” says Richard Dovere, Co-founder and Managing Member of C2 Energy Capital.

The partnership between C2 Energy Capital, First Solar, and SP&L took a value-driven approach that resulted in cost-savings and reduced project risk for the school through strategic technology procurement, employing local and Ohio resources, and arranging ongoing project performance analysis. 

EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK

Can an evangelical group change Ohio lawmakers’ minds on clean energy?, Energy News Network

An evangelical group has a stark message for Ohio lawmakers: If you care about unborn children, clean up the air their mothers breathe. “As a pro-life Christian, I believe pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that lasts a lifetime,” reads a petition signed by more than 53,000 Ohioans in support of moving the state to 100% clean electricity by 2030. The petition, circulated by the nonprofit Evangelical Environmental Network, was delivered to lawmakers on July 16. Its potential political impact was unclear then and is even more so now after federal authorities arrested the speaker of the Ohio House and others as part of an alleged $60 million bribery scheme

SUNPOWER BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

SunPower to launch 625 W shingled module, PV Magazine
SunPower, which is majority owned by French energy giant Total, is planning to launch a new shingled module series with 625 watts of power output. Group spinoff Maxeon Solar Technologies will commercialize the Performance 5 line in the fourth quarter. The high-efficiency, bifacial mono-PERC solar panels will be made with large format eight-inch G12 wafers and will have an efficiency of 21.2%.

AWEA WEBINAR SERIES

Renewables 101 series: Wind recap, look out for solar, by Lauren Rudolphi, Into The Wind
As someone new to the renewable energy industry, this month’s Wind 101 Webinar Series offered an insightful and well-rounded look into the world of wind. From an overview of the market, to wildlife, siting & permitting, I walked away from the series feeling informed and excited to learn more! Below is a recap of my key takeaways.

New Resources Developed by Nebraska’s Largest Utilities – Plus an Upcoming Event

Announcing LES’ Electric Vehicle Webinar Series
By Marc J. Shkolnick, LES Manager/Energy Services

Electric vehicle enthusiasts are invited to participate in one or more noon-hour webinars presented by Lincoln Electric System. The virtual workshops will cover a wide array of topics ranging from home and public charging trends and technologies, results of LES’ residential charging study, considerations for buying or leasing a new or used electric vehicle and innovations in electric transportation. LES has booked experts from the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to present and engage in question and answers for each webinar. RSVP by visiting www.les.com/ev

LES News Release: Recent grant enables LES to offer first EV rebate
Lincoln Electric System has received a grant of $120,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for its “Electric Vehicle Public Engagement and Rebate Program.” The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its June 11 meeting, and LES made the official announcement during its own administrative board meeting July 17. Funds will be used to offer LES customers purchase or lease rebates for new, all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.


New Series of Solar Videos Created by NPPD & UNL 
By David Rich, NPPD Sustainable Energy Manager

The series’ co-creator and presenter F. John Hay, shown in the above photo, is an Extension Educator for Biological Systems Engineering at UNL. Small wind turbines and small solar systems for home, farm, or business are among his various areas of research and teaching interests. The videos include:

The resources are also posted here on NPPD’s website. Click “Videos”.


New platform gives customers a way to connect
By Laura King-Homan, The Wire


OPPD recently launched a new way to connect with customers – and hear what they have to say. The utility’s new outreach websiteOPPDCommunityConnect, replaces the previous website and provides a more interactive experience. It also supports the utility’s strategic directive around stakeholder engagement and transparency.

Current conversations featured on the site include:

  • Power with Purpose – OPPD’s utility-scale solar and backup natural gas generation project
  • Pathways to Decarbonization – The work OPPD is doing to reach net-zero carbon production by 2050
  • COVID-19 pandemic updates and community resources

OPPD has streamlined its customer-owned generation program
By Jodi Baker, The Wire

“We know more and more customers are looking into owning their own generation, and we want to guide them in the process,” said Kirk Estee, Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager for OPPD. “We are their energy partner, and we’re here to help.”With those goals in mind, OPPD recently revamped and streamlined its process of applying for Customer-Owned Generation (COG). And the utility created a new website, with educational resources, such as a quick-start guide, information on net metering for billing, and available tax credits. Customers will also find a calculator to determine their pay-off period for an investment in solar panels.


LES ANNOUNCEMENT

LES’ signature sustainability event is back this year in a whole new way — online!

We’re hosting our 10th annual Sustainable Living Festival digitally as a weeklong extravaganza July 20-24.

This year, we need your help in spreading the word about the event. Feel free to invite friends and family to this virtual festival through social media and your other channels! Each day, we will have a variety of content from local experts to help festivalgoers discover easy ways to take care of our environment and live more sustainably.

See the lineup of live events and mini sessions & register here.

How local US governments are getting renewable energy

GreenBiz article contributed by Tatsatom Gonçalves & Yuning Liu
Originally published by the World Resources Institute

California and Texas accounted for about 84 percent of the total renewable energy purchased by cities between 2015 and early 2020. The prominent role of these two states is no surprise, given that they are the country’s largest electricity consumers and enjoy easy access to abundant wind and solar resources. Both also allow electric retail choice and have the local autonomy needed to access renewable energy options such as community choice aggregations (CCAs). In doing so, local governments can aggregate the power demand of their residents and businesses to get more leverage to choose cleaner power sources, which could contribute to their higher rates of procurement. There is also a lot of progress in other regions, including through community solar projects in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Washington. Collectively, there were more than 120 clean energy transactions by local governments in the other most active states. Read more here.

FROM UTLITY DIVE

Biden outlines $2T plan to invest in renewables, electrification, by Emma Penrod
In a Tuesday afternoon speech, presidential candidate Joe Biden outlined his plan for nearly $2 trillion in infrastructure spending, focused mostly on renewable energy and electrification, which he described as a “one-time” opportunity to reestablish the U.S. as a global economic and political leader.

His comments mirror the findings of the American Council on Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) third-annual investor survey, also released on Tuesday, which found that investors ranked energy storage as the most desirable sector to invest in, despite the reality that energy storage still secures a minority of the overall investment dollars dedicated to renewable energy. An increase in government incentives for storage projects, according to ACORE, could change this trend.

GTM’s POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

How Joe Biden’s Climate Plan Stacks Up

On this week’s episode of Political Climate, we discuss the details and political implications of Biden’s clean energy and infrastructure plan. T
he Biden climate plan comes on the heels of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations on addressing climate change and environmental injustice, as well as House Democrats’ 500-page report on solving the climate crisis. In theory, there’s a lot in all of these proposals for leaders across the political aisle to love.

PEW RESEARCH CENTER SURVEY

US Citizens Want More Action From The Government For Climate Change, CEOWORLD Magazine
Pew Research Center conducted a new survey for climate change and what American citizens believe about the way the government is handling it. 65% of Americans say that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. Citizens are dissatisfied not only with the way the government deals with climate change but also with protecting air and water quality and wildlife.

CLIMATE FINANCE CENTER

JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs back launch of climate finance center, by Dan Ennis, Banking Dive. The Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean energy nonprofit, launched the Center for Climate-Aligned Finance on Thursday with financial backing from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. With the goal of cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, the center aims to collaborate with banks to design guidance for working with carbon-heavy sectors such as steel or utilities, and to help banks determine which climate benchmarks and data to follow.

PV MAGAZINE’S MORNING BRIEF

California ISO brings the largest battery storage resource in the nation online
Also in the brief: IREC on energy storage interconnection, Wunder Capital and partners to invest more than $100 million in U.S. commercial solar, Photosol buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission, and NREL on recycling solar panels.

JINKO’S PRO TIGER SERIES SOLAR PANELS

A closer look at Jinko’s 565 W to 585 W panel, PV Magazine
The module – which measures 2,411 mm × 1,134 mm × 35 mm, weighs 31.1 kg and features 156 p-type monocrystalline cells – is available in five versions with power outputs of 565 W to 585 W and efficiencies of 20.6% to 21.4%. Jinko says the Pro Tiger series will become the company’s main revenue stream in 2022, surpassing the Tiger 475 W panel. 

HYBRID SOLAR ENERGY CONVERTER

Scientists build high-performing hybrid solar energy converter, Tulane University, ScienceDaily
Tulane University researchers are part of a team of scientists who have developed a hybrid solar energy converter that generates electricity and steam with high efficiency and low cost. The hybrid converter utilizes an approach that more fully captures the whole spectrum of sunlight. It generates electricity from high efficiency multi-junction solar cells that also redirect infrared rays of sunlight to a thermal receiver, which converts those rays to thermal energy.

The thermal energy can be stored until needed and used to provide heat for a wide range of commercial and industrial uses, such as food processing, chemical production, water treatment, or enhanced oil recovery. The team reports that the system demonstrated 85.1 percent efficiency, delivered steam at up to 248°C, and is projected to have a system levelized cost of 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

GREEN RECOVERY

The World Needs a Cash-for-Coal-Clunkers Program, Greentech Media article contributed by Justin Guay, director for global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project.

For just 5 percent of what the U.S. has spent on its COVID-19 recovery package, it could have bought out and retired every coal plant in the world. Instead, the U.S. coal industry is benefiting from recovery programs while the world continues to subsidize old uneconomic coal plants rather than retire them. As we debate a green recovery, now is the time to add an important approach to our tool kit: a cash-for-coal-clunkers program, to help buy the only thing we can’t make more of — time. In the U.S., even the most optimistic estimates say we are on track to get coal off line as late as 2035 — five years too late.

ENERGY STORAGE

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

DOE Announces $139 Million in Funding for 55 Projects to Advance Innovative Vehicle Technologies. Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), projects will conduct research in advanced batteries, electrification, and manufacturing in support of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge. Announced by Secretary Brouillette in January 2020, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge is a comprehensive strategy to create and sustain U.S. global leadership in energy storage technology, utilization, and exports. Learn more about all of the projects selected today here.

ENERGY COMMUNITIES

Belgian school selling solar power to neighbors, PV Magazine International
Belgium is testing its first energy community by giving special status to a solar energy pilot near Brussels. The project will help to create a large-scale legal framework to apply the European Directives to energy communities.

FEATURED SOLAR INSTALLATION 

Solar energy makes local car wash even ‘greener’, The Winchester Star

Owner Ned Browning of Winchester said the car wash has been incorporating green technology for years, including water conservation, pollution prevention and biodegradable soap options. Adding clean solar energy was “the next level,” he said. The solar array went into operation in April and is expected to pay for itself in five years.

Photo Credit: Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star

FEATURED CLIMATE & ENERGY EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 

The Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) maintains a collection of 700+ free, ready-to-use climate and energy educational resources that have been rigorously reviewed by educators and scientists. They are geared toward secondary through higher education classrooms.

Environment America’s “Greener Together” Resources – Plus a Free Solar Energy International Course for Older Learners

Environment America.Org

“Right now, people across the country are turning to the outdoors and nature as a refuge. Nature can calm us and reconnect us with ourselves, with other people and with the world around us. As people are practicing social distancing, with and without kids at home, we want to provide opportunities to connect with the natural world and other like-minded people through engaging events, fun activities and helpful guides to help foster this connection.”

“Greener Together” Activities
Contributed by Environment America Members

Click here to view Environment America’s  “Tips & Guides” and “Green Events.”

FREE Solar Energy International Online Course
Geared Toward High School Students & Adults


RE100: Introduction To Renewable Energy
RE100 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. Join the tens of thousands of individuals who have gotten their first taste of renewable energy in RE100. You won’t emerge as an expert, but you will learn a lot about the different technologies and trends, what situations are more appropriate for one type of renewable energy system versus another, and how to make a difference with your own energy consumption. This course also serves as a great introduction to SEI’s online campus.

New Series of Solar Videos Created by NPPD & UNL

David Rich, Sustainable Energy Manager at Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), today shared information with Nebraskans for Solar about a new series of videos jointly developed by NPPD and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

The series’ co-creator and presenter F. John Hay, shown in the above photo, is an Extension Educator for Biological Systems Engineering at UNL. Small wind turbines and small solar systems for home, farm, or business are among his various areas of research and teaching interests.

In 2017 Hay installed a solar PV system at his own home. He has provided many hands-on workshops in communities throughout Nebraska to teach others about solar design and installation, emphasizing the importance of starting with a good economic analysis. Last November Nebraskans for Solar hosted a presentation by Professor Hay at UNO’s Community Engagement Center on those topics.

Especially now while we are unable to enjoy sponsoring or co-sponsoring with allied organizations our own series of in-person events, we are happy to share the following videos on behalf of NPPD and UNL:

The resources are posted here on NPPD’s website. Click on “Videos”.

Courtesy Photo: F. John Hay

New Nebraska Solar Schools Education Project Funded by a 2020 Facebook Community Action Grant

Solar Energy Kits for K-12 Sarpy County Schools

Nebraskans for Solar will launch a new Nebraska Solar Schools education project this summer, made possible by a 2020 Facebook Community Action Grant. This grant will support the Nebraska Solar Schools program by providing schools in Sarpy County with National Energy Education Development (NEED) Solar Energy Kits for enhanced STEM programming.

The kits will be available to the schools at no cost to teachers and principals requesting them. The launch of this new solar energy education project will be announced on Nebraskans for Solar’s website and Facebook page and in our newsletters.

All K-12 Sarpy County schools are encouraged to participate in this new solar energy education project, and upon its initiation date, to submit a request form for a NEED Solar Energy Kit.

About Facebook 2020 Community Action Grants
Papillion Data Center Facebook Announcement: We are excited to share the most recent recipients of Facebook’s Community Action Grants, a program created to address needs in Sarpy County by putting the power of technology to use for community benefit, connecting people online or off, and improving STEM education. Read about all the grants recipients here.

About Nebraska Solar Schools
Nebraska Solar Schools is a program of the nonprofit Nebraskans for Solar. The purpose of our Solar Energy Education & Development Program is to provide resources for K-12 teachers to facilitate integration of renewable energy education into their classrooms or after-school programs. Resources are also provided for those who want to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at their schools
.

Download a PDF about this new solar energy education project here.

Questions? Please contact Nebraska Solar Schools Facilitator Helen Deffenbacher: HelenDeffenbacher@NebraskaSolarSchools.Org

Solar Energy International expanding online solar training during pandemic

Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World

Solar Energy International (SEI) is expanding its contribution to the global solar community through more online educational opportunities to meet the professional development needs of the industry and keep the community connected. As of today, SEI has over 75,000 people enrolled in the SEI Online Campus and is prepared to grow its global impact exponentially in the coming months. As part of the SEI Global Solar Connection Initiative and through its nonprofit efforts, SEI is offering multiple opportunities to get connected and keep your solar energy education going:

Read more here.

Learn more about SEI’s Global Solar Connection Initiative here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Maine public schools have savings opportunity with efficient lighting

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Public schools in Maine this month can get extra financial assistance to install LED lighting. Aside from being a cleaner source of energy, efficiency experts say the new technology can save a lot of money in the long term for schools, where lights are one of the biggest energy drains. They can also create a better learning environment for students and teachers. Efficiency Maine, the state’s efficiency utility, is leading the incentive program. Efficiency utilities are state-regulated organizations dedicated to distributing efficiency funding and other support. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch / Flickr / Creative Commons

Previously Posted 

In Massachusetts, students step up to pressure schools on renewable energy, by Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network. Student campaigns are underway on more than a dozen campuses demanding a transition to 100% renewables.

Also In The News

Nearly 3,000 solar panels will help power Glenbard East, Chicago Daily Herald

 

Glenbard High School District 87 is bringing solar power to one of its campuses as more suburban schools are drawn to the cost savings and environmental benefits of the renewable energy source.