Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

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.



Planning on going solar or just looking for more information about the process? Join us tonight for our March presentation!

Our speaker will be Kirk Estee
OPPD Alternative Energy Solutions Manager

His Topic: “The Future of Customer-Owned Generation”
UNO Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center
6400 University Drive S (64th & Dodge)
OPPD Dialogue Rooms 230 & 231 – 7 to 8:30 pm

Kirk Estee: The adoption rate of customers installing generation at their homes or businesses has significantly increased in OPPD’s service territory and throughout our country with expectations of this trend continuing.

In order to remain a trusted energy partner for our customers, OPPD started an initiative to improve the process and experience for customers connecting their own generation to the grid. This not only allows for a simple and streamlined process for applicants, but it also improves the safety for OPPD personnel in the field.

The result of this project includes a new online application process, enhanced content on OPPD webpages, and tools to assist customers in making educated decisions when it comes to customer-owned generation including a solar calculator.”

A Q&A will follow Kirk Estee’s presentation.

This event is open to the public. Refreshments provided. Reserved parking is available for Nebraskans for Solar guests in the lots in front of the Community Engagement Center, near the Durham Bell Tower. Enter at the kiosk.

Please join us and bring a friend!

Top Photo: Kirk Estee providing a PowerPoint presentation at the 2019 Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference.

Nebraska Solar Schools Education & Development Program Update

In April 2019 the Nebraska Environmental Trust awarded Nebraska Solar Schools, a Nebraskans for Solar program, a grant for $31,250 to provide statewide K-12 schools with award-winning National Energy Education Development (NEED) solar energy kits. There are four NEED grade-level kits available:

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

All the materials needed for each lesson plan, project and activity are included in the kits, providing teachers a time-saving and fun way to incorporate solar energy education into their STEM-based programs. Almost all the curriculum materials in the kits are reusable, and so each kit can be used by multiple teachers. Replacement kits for consumables are available from NEED.Org at a fraction of the cost of the main kit.

To date, sixty-one K-12 schools in communities all across Nebraska have been awarded NEED Solar Energy Kits.

Nebraska Solar Schools’ next steps will be to continue the education half of the program for as long as Nebraska Environmental Trust grant funds last; develop a needs-based scholarships program for graduating seniors; and create a grants fund for the development half of the program.

Project development grants will enable Nebraska high schools using the NEED “Exploring Photovoltaics” Kit to build their own ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) project under the supervision of one or more mentors, local solar technology experts.

Each high school awarded a project-development grant will be provided a PV kit with all the materials needed to complete their school project. Nebraska Solar Schools’ website provides information for all K-12 schools wishing to install a photovoltaic system at their school.

Learn more about Nebraska Solar Schools Education & Development Program at:

Check out the NEED Solar Energy Kits and see examples of lesson plans, projects and activities for each grade level here: NEED Solar Energy Kits Project (PDF)

Questions? Please contact Nebraska Solar Schools Facilitator Helen Deffenbacher:

In rural Colorado, the kids of coal miners learn to install solar panels

By Nick Bowlin, High Country News

This story is a part of the ongoing Back 40 series, where High Country News reporters look at national trends and their impacts close to home.

At a picnic table in a dry grass field, a group of elementary school students watched as high school senior Xavier Baty, a broad-shouldered 18-year-old in a camouflage ball cap and scuffed work boots, attached a hand-sized solar panel cell to a small motor connected to a fan. He held the panel to face the setting Colorado sun, adjusting its angle to vary the fan speed.

“Want to hear a secret?” he asked the kids around him. “This is the only science class I ever got an A in.” Continue reading here.

Nick Bowlin is an editorial fellow at High Country News.

Masonic Home gets solar energy grant, plans open house Thursday

By Tammy Real-McKeighan, Fremont Tribune

Nebraskans for Solar and the Masonic Eastern Star Home for Children are partnering on a solar energy endeavor. This venture will allow the children’s home to join the City of Fremont’s Community Solar Program.

Nebraskans for Solar’s Green Watts for Good Program has provided a $5,000 grant to the Masonic Home. The Masonic Home has provided an equal match of $5,000 to purchase 50 solar panels in Fremont’s Community Solar Program. The panels will be purchased from the City of Fremont Department of Utilities. This purchase will provide enough solar energy to cover 50% of the electricity consumed in the Leonard A. Johnson 4-H Barn.

A presentation and open house will start at 1 p.m. Thursday in the main office of the Masonic Home at 2415 N. Main St. – the second building on the right. Read more here.

More About The Project

Nebraskans for Solar Board Member Leo Arens is the Lead Coordinator for the Fremont project in partnership with the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children and the City of Fremont Department of Utilities. This is our seventh Green Watts for Good project. Leo will represent Nebraskans for Solar at tomorrow’s presentation and open house.

5 Ways You Can Get Involved in Local Green Watts for Good Projects

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Fremont solar project and find more ways to join in on our Green Watts for Good Program, click here.

Virtual Tour

Take a virtual tour of the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children, including the 4-H Barn and the Technology Center. The Center’s 4-H technology projects consist of welding, electrical, robotics, wind generation, aquaponics, carpentry, wood working, and mechanics. Nebraskans for Solar board members have gifted a NEED Solar Energy Kit for Grades 9-12, “Exploring Photovoltaics,” for the Technology Center, and so 4-H’ers will have the additional choice of solar technology projects.

Above Right Photo: The Technology Center’s Robotics Classroom
Top Photos: Aerial View of the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children
At the Leonard A. Johnson 4-H Barn – From left: Ron Giesselmann, Executive Director of the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children, Nebraskans for Solar Board Members Helen Deffenbacher, Ken Deffenbacher, and Leo Arens. Photographer: Lottie Michell, City of Fremont Department of Utilities.

Tomorrow Night’s Nebraskans for Solar & OPPD Presentation: The Potential For Combined Renewable Energy & Battery Installations

December 11, 2019 from 7 to 8:30 pm
UNO Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center
OPPD Dialogue Rooms 230 & 231

Moderator: Courtney Kennedy, OPPD Alternative Energy Program Manager, will moderate the panel discussion and facilitate a Q&A.


Josh Moenning, Norfolk Mayor and founder of New Power Nebraska
Mr. Moenning will provide an overview of the City of Norfolk’s planned 8.5-MW community solar project and accompanying battery energy storage system, made possible by a grant award from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

David RichNebraska Public Power District Sustainable Energy Manager
Mr. Rich will discuss NPPD’s application to the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a
1 MW/2 MWH battery energy storage system in partnership with the City of Norfolk, NPPD’s Request for Proposals, the evaluation of the proposals and current status. Additionally, he will discuss issues raised by the developers regarding potential utilization of the U.S. Investment Tax Credits.

Michal Lisowyj, OPPD Alternative Energy Specialist
The title of Mr. Lisowyj’s discussion is “The Future of Energy Storage.” His presentation is designed to give the audience a brief overview of why energy storage is becoming popular, the technologies being deployed, as well as some that may be used in the future (cryo, pumped, flow, etc.). He will also provide a brief overview of OPPD’s grant application for energy storage. Included, too, will be slides showing how people are using energy storage in their homes.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments provided. Reserved parking is available in the lot in front of the Community Engagement Center.

Please join us! To share this announcement with friends and colleagues, use this link: