Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

Thank you to everyone who participated in last evening’s Nebraskans for Solar event!

First of all, thank you to our guest speaker, John Hay, Extension Educator for Bioenergy at UNL, who provided an excellent discussion on the steps for completing a good economic analysis for a Solar PV system. His presentation included the common mistakes that lead to poor or misleading analysis; the best economic metric for describing economics of a system; and beyond economics, how individual goals, values, and motivations impact solar PV decisions.

John is a do-it-yourselfer who designed and installed a photovoltaic system for his own home. He also has given presentations and taught hands-on workshops in communities throughout Nebraska, solely or in partnership with Jon Dixon, owner of Dixon Power Systems based in Lincoln.

We also extend our appreciation to our attendees, who came from as far away as Allen, Nebraska. Audience members contributed many insightful questions and comments to the discussion that followed Mr. Hay’s presentation.

Photo Credit: David Corbin, Nebraskans for Solar Board Member and Facebook Coordinator

If you missed last night’s event, check out the following resources:

Web Seminar Series

Recent Publication

Solar Electric Investment Analysis Series, by Eric Romich and F. John Hay, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)

How-To Guide For Do-It-Yourselfers

 

Install Your Own Solar Panels: Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home is a fully-illustrated step-by-step guide written by veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and long-time builder Philip Schmidt.

 

Military experience provides natural transition to clean energy careers, veterans say

By David Thill and Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Kevin Johnson served as a captain in the U.S. Army and spent a year stationed in Baiji, Iraq, home to a major oil refinery. The war made clear to him the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Johnson was stationed “at the heart of the oil infrastructure in Iraq,” he said, “watching the infrastructure being attacked on a daily basis and having my soldiers ask me, ‘When are we going home?’” That was the genesis of Johnson’s career in clean energy. “I knew that when I got out that I wanted to be on the other side of that fight,” he told the Energy News Network.
Continue reading here.

Photo by Ken Oltmann / U.S. Department of Energy

Among other resources, the authors reference the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest survey, which provides information on 12 states, including veteran representation.

Our State’s Executive Summary: Nebraska: Home to 19,004 Clean Energy Jobs

In Nebraska, 9.6 percent of the state’s clean energy workers are veterans. By comparison, veterans make up 6 percent of the national labor force. The large ratio of veterans transitioning to clean energy jobs is partially the result of the U.S. Department of Defense’s long-standing commitment to investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and training programs that prepare veterans for private-sector employment in industries like solar. Small businesses drive the state’s clean energy sector – 70.9 percent of Nebraska’s clean energy businesses employ fewer than 20 individuals.

SUMMARY: With 19,000 jobs and counting, the clean energy industry is a significant employer in Nebraska. Even as jobs in the state overall are decreasing, jobs in Nebraska’s clean energy industry are growing at a relatively healthy 3.5 percent clip. Clean energy employers in Nebraska are bullish when it comes to ongoing hiring: they predict a 7.7 percent increase in clean energy jobs in 2019, higher than the regional average.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Local Events Part of National Solar Tour – The Largest Annual Grassroots Renewable Energy Event in the U.S.

This annual nationwide tour provides numerous opportunities for you to visit with Nebraskans who have invested in solar energy and with Hastings Utilities representatives at the city’s new solar farm, to gain information about how solar works, its benefits, and what local resources are available.

These open houses and tours are free, and people of all ages are invited to attend. Whether you are a solar owner, completely new to solar, or somewhere in between – these events are for you. Click links to learn more about each one and to RSVP:

National Solar Tour Event – Hastings Utilities Hosting Open House at Recently-Completed Community Solar Farm

This event is part of the National Solar Tour, the largest annual
grassroots renewable energy event in the nation.


RSVP HERE.

Hastings Utilities is hosting a tour and ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 3 pm – 6 pm at the recently-completed Community Solar Farm. The project was installed by GenPro Energy Solutions. See solar panels up close, ask questions about how solar works, learn why people in a growing number of our communities are making the choice to go solar, and connect with others who support solar energy. This event is free and open to the public. More information is available about Hastings’ Community Solar Farm here.

MORE NEBRASKA EVENTS

The following solar open house and tours are also free and  open to the public. Everyone is welcome to attend. Whether you are a solar owner, completely new to solar, or somewhere in between – these events are for you.

  • Bennington, Nebraska Solar Open House: October 5, 2019, 11 am to 6 pm
    20210 High Country Circle, Bennington, Nebraska 68007. “Our solar system was installed by Great Plains Renewables in 2018.” RSVP HERE.
  • Omaha, Nebraska Solar Tour: October 5, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HERE.
  • Bellevue/Sarpy County Solar Tour: October 6, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HEREOmaha and Bellevue/Sarpy County Solar Tours’ Sponsors: Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraskans for Solar

Green Bellevue celebrates 10 years

By Brody Hilgencamp, Bellevue Leader / Omaha World-Herald

Sharon Rea has been president of Green Bellevue for eight months, and she uses an apt metaphor to describe the organization she has been tapped to lead and the people who founded it. “The seeds that they planted — literally — everything is carrying forward,” she said.

The rain gardens and recycling are big deals, leaders said, but the pièce de résistance would be the group’s next grand plan: a solar farm in the Bellevue area. The group hopes to work with Omaha Public Power District to make it happen. “I see us putting a lot of effort to that initiative in the next few months,” Rea said. “We’re determined.” Read more here.

Photo by Brody Hilgenkamp: Ruth Richter, left, Sharon Rea and Don Preister

Bellevue’s Proposed Landfill Solar Project – Previously Posted 

Given solar energy’s substantial price declines over the past several years since Bellevue’s landfill solar project was first proposed, it would be good to see an up-to-date analysis of the project’s levelized costs over a twenty-year power purchase agreement.

Bellevue/Sarpy County & Omaha Participating in The National Solar Tour

The National Solar Tour is the largest annual grassroots
renewable energy event in the nation.

The following local, second-annual solar tours are free and  open to the public – everyone is welcome to attend. Whether you are a solar owner, completely new to solar, or somewhere in between – these events are for you.

  • National Solar Tour Event – Omaha, October 5, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HERE.
  • National Solar Tour Event – Bellevue/Sarpy County, October 6, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HERE.

Local Solar Tour Sponsors: Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraskans for Solar

Trinity to showcase STEM lab at event

By Tammy Real-McKeighan, Fremont Tribune


Could Reese Barton be a budding engineer? Only time will tell for the fourth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School in Fremont. But on Wednesday morning, Reese spoke enthusiastically while participating in the school’s new STEM lab, where renovations are underway.

Continue reading here.

Photo by Tammy Real-McKeighan

 

Nebraska Solar Schools’ NEED Solar Energy Kits Project (PDF)
Trinity Lutheran School in Fremont is one of many statewide K-12 schools now participating in Nebraska Solar Schools’ National Energy Education Development (NEED) project in which teachers and principals are provided free solar energy kits upon request and for as long as quantities last for their classrooms and after-school STEM programs, through a generous grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Solar beads, or UV Beads, mentioned in the article, is just one of many activities among the curriculum materials included in two of the NEED kits: The Sun and Its Energy for Grades K-2 and Wonders of the Sun for Grades 3-5.

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.