Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

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.

Solar on schools advances with open source contracting

By William Driscoll, PV Magazine

With every new solar-on-schools contract more people learn how it’s done, share what they know, and make it easier for neighboring school districts to follow the same path. U.S. schools could host up to 30 gigawatts of solar. Read the entire article here.

Image Credit: Arlington Public Schools: Rooftop solar on an Arlington, Virginia school.

ALSO IN THE NEWS
A 13-year-old won $25,000 for a solar-panel invention that can locate the sun at any time, Business Insider

Georgia Hutchinson, from Woodside, California, took the top prize at the Broadcom Masters nationwide STEM competition for middle-school students. She is working on patenting her invention.
Photo Credit: Society for Science and the Public

SOLAR SCHOOLS RESOURCES

Generation 180

  • Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, written by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180 and Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Let’s Go Solar:
    School Toolkit
    Champion Toolkit
  • National Resources
  • State Resources Include Nebraska Solar Schools

Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Presentations Now Available

Recordings from the 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference are now available on the conference website. Click Here to View Presentations.

Mark Your Calendars
12th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference
October 29-30, 2019
Marriott Cornhusker Hotel | Lincoln, Nebraska

Thank you to all of the Sponsors, Exhibitors, Presenters & Attendees of the 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference for your dedication to and passion for advancing Nebraska’s wind and solar industry. – Conference Organizing Committee

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first annual Bellevue / Omaha Solar Tour!

In addition to Bellevue and Omaha, solar enthusiasts came from Bennington, Elkhorn, Grand Island, Hastings, Lincoln, York, Council Bluffs and Iowa City to attend the first-ever nationally-sponsored solar tour in our region. The event was part of the 2018 National Solar Tour organized by the American Solar Energy Society and Solar United Neighbors.

Thank you to local tour hosts Don Preister, shown in the above photo with his backyard solar array, and Eric Williams, the Wetherby family, City Sprouts, Exist Green and OPPD. The tour was sponsored by Nebraska Sierra Club, Green Bellevue and Nebraskans for Solar.

Photo Credit: KETV

NEWS STORIES

Mr Zero: Preister’s zero-carbon life draws national attention

Bellevue Leader / World-Herald News Service

[Don Preister’s] zero-carbon-footprint achievement has caught the attention of the American Solar Energy Society, which has included Preister’s home on a national list of homes that on Oct. 6 will hold an Open Solar House. Organized locally by Green Bellevue, which Preister chairs, Nebraskans for Solar, and the Sierra Club, Preister will welcome people to his home at 4522 Borman St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Continue reading here.

Photo by Eugene Curtin: Bellevue City Councilman Don Preister stands with his backyard solar array. Preister has achieved a zero-carbon-footprint lifestyle and will be part of a national Open House program October 6 where people who have successfully generated their own power explain how it’s done.

Related News Story

Solar panel usage trends in metro
By Shawnte Passmore, KMTV 

Don Preister is what you call energy independent. “Being energy independent means I’m generating at least as much or at times more electricity than what I’m using,” said the Bellevue city councilman. Preister relies on the sun and his 28-panel solar collector to power his home, placed behind his garden. Power bill? Gone. View the video or read the entire transcript here.

Please join Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club and Nebraskans for Solar on Saturday!

 

Omaha/Bellevue Solar Tour October 6th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Click here for details.