Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

Solar project helps power the community, more importantly empower students

By Steve White, Nebraska TV

GRAND ISLAND, Neb — Power tools replace textbooks which is fitting for students learning to wire the world. “They designed and built solar panels, designed and built mounts,” explained teacher Alex Kemnitz. Grand Island Senior High’s alternative energy program attracted the attention of future engineer Mason Messmer. “The field I want to go into deals with solar panels and wind and this will really help with my future,” the high school junior said. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Photo: Alex Kemnitz

Previously Posted

Grand Island Public offers ‘pathway’ to a greener world, by Jessica Votipka, Grand Island Independent, December 26, 2021

“I have a team of students who are designing and building solar phone charge stations for the new Stolley Park Community Gardens.” – Alex Kemnitz, alternative energy and robotics teacher. Next semester Alternative Energy Pathway students are going to do an energy audit on Newell Elementary School, to identify find out how to remedy any energy efficiency weakness, he said. 

Click the following link to learn more about the Academies of Grand Island Senior High.

Creighton University 1st Place Winner in Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup Class of 2021-2022

On April 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each division. Following the announcement, the three first-place teams presented to a public audience, who voted for the Project Pitch Champions.

“The Solar District Cup convenes college competitors to accelerate the transition to the clean energy future and to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district energy system. The Creighton team designed a proposed distributed energy system for Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Their proposal included strong photovoltaics system design, tracker angular rotation schedule, distribution analysis, and financial analyses.”

The Solar District Cup is directed and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and is funded by the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more here.

Conservation Nebraska Event This Saturday!


One of the students representing Creighton University in the competition was Max Markuson DiPrince, who will be Conservation Nebraska’s guest speaker this Saturday, April 30th at 10 a.m. for a virtual presentation that was recently announced in our: Special Earth Month Edition Newsletter.

Register to attend the event at the link provided.

PV in the Circular Economy: Modeling tool helps predict flow of solar materials

By Anne Fischer, Senior Editor, PV Magazine

Exponential growth of PV installations continues in the US and so will the growth in PV panel waste streams. According to the Solar Futures Study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), solar could account for as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050.

To reach these levels, solar deployment will need to grow by an average of 30 GW each year between now and 2025 and then double that between 2025 and 2030—four times its current deployment rate—to total 1,000 GW of solar deployed by 2035. That’s a lot of solar panels that would start being retired from service even before 2050. Needless to say, a lot of people–including 7-year old Neil— are concerned about what will happen to solar modules at the end of their life. That concern is real and growing, and is the subject of much study around the world. Continue reading here.

Referenced PV Magazine Article: Neil – a second grader from Minnesota – is concerned about solar panel recycling

Above Photo: Local Reuse Project
The Meristem Aronia Berry Farm And Nursery In Papillion provides an excellent example of reusing solar panels that still have life left in them. The solar panels heat a 700-gallon water tank that powers a propagating bench for the farm’s aronia berry plants. The owner, Tom Lundahl, received a grant to purchase the used solar panels, and Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric, installed them. Photo by Tom Lundahl
News Story: Papillion farmer installing solar panels says renewable energy is future of farming, KETV

Solar Schools
Additional examples include schools throughout the country that are reusing still-working solar panels and other PV system components for onsite STEM learning opportunities. The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project has written a companion curriculum guide:
Schools Going Solar: Data driven lessons and activities to support and incorporate installed photovoltaic systems into the classroom learning environment.

State Policies & Laws
Nebraska does not yet have end-of-life policies for reusing and recycling solar panels and other PV system components. States that have enacted laws, regulations, and policies include: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington. Source: State Solar Panel End-of-Life Policies, EPA

Related PV Magazine Articles

Department of Energy 

End-of-Life Management for Solar Photovoltaics, DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office

Most PV systems are young—approximately 70% of solar energy systems have been deployed in the past five years. The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. So, while there are not many systems entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.

Read about SETO’s PV End-of-Life Action Plan,
March 2022.

UNO Magazine: Big Future for Tiny Homes

University of Nebraska Omaha News Center

Focused on the future of tiny houses, Bing Chen, Ph.D., a UNL professor of electrical and computer engineering based out of Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Institute, envisions a future filled with tiny, environmentally friendly houses.

Over the past two years, Chen, along with students from Metropolitan Community College, have taken the first steps to making his vision a reality. Earlier this year, this multidisciplinary team completed construction of a 400-square-foot prototype of a sustainable, ADA-compliant home that one day could be mass produced and easily transported almost anywhere in the country.

The construction students framed the home, created the floor, erected side walls, wired the home for electricity and installed heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The finished 20-foot x 20-foot home, which was built on MCC’s campus, will be moved on a flatbed trailer to a location near UNO’s Baxter Arena this coming spring. Learn more here.

Read the UNO Magazine online as a Flipbook or download a PDF.

Previously Posted

Happy New (Fiscal) Year! Recapping a Year of Accomplishments at the Wind Energy Technologies Office

DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office 

As Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 comes to a close, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) is celebrating a range of research and funding achievements—from an offshore wind supply chain roadmap to new resources to help communities plan wind energy developments.

Learn more about how WETO’s FY21 accomplishments have helped set the stage for U.S. wind energy to continue to grow.

Visit the Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) for the latest news, events, and updates.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GREEN CAMPUSES

 Six Months of Solar: DU Pushes Toward Carbon Neutrality Goals, University of Denver News
The project aims to reduce DU’s carbon footprint in line with its 25 sustainability goals to achieve by 2025, and to further carbon neutrality efforts.

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO K-12 TEACHERS

NEED Curriculum Samplers

Available for FREE PDF download, these curriculum samplers recombine NEED favorites into a smaller and simpler format, allowing the NEED Project to showcase new curriculum activities before they go into full format. Click here to check them out and share with your colleagues.

Groundbreaking ceremony to be held for York’s new solar project

The Grand Island Independent

YORK – Representatives of Nebraska Public Power District, the City of York and Solar Developer GRNE will hold an official groundbreaking event for the York Community Solar project located at 1214 Road 15 (York landfill), north of York. The groundbreaking event is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. and will kick off construction of the 3.2 megawatt facility. Continue reading here.

Photo: Kearney Solar Farm. The panels for York’s solar project will be mounted on a tracker-designed racking system similar to Kearney’s.

Links to Additional Information

Previously Posted: Solar project at landfill still moving forward, York News-Times

Additional NPPD SunWise Projects
Construction underway at NPPD Ainsworth community solar site, NPPD News Release
When complete, the 500-kilowatt (KW) Ainsworth facility will generate enough electricity to serve the equivalent of approximately 75-100 homes in the community when the sun is shining. The solar project will join current projects, including those already operational in Venango, Scottsbluff, Kearney, and future projects planned for Norfolk, York, and Ogallala. The project will be built and operated by GRNE Solar, a Lincoln, Neb., company.  Once completed, the facility will be known as Solar Bundle One, LLC. Construction is scheduled for completion this fall . . .  [All shares are reserved].

COMING THIS WEDNESDAY: DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ZOOM MEETING

NCSP Community-Based Organizations Convening: Tools for Equitable Community Solar

Description

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is hosting a virtual meeting via Zoom for community-based organizations on Tools for Equitable Solar to introduce the National Community Solar Partnership’s new, rolling technical assistance program and other program resources to community-based organizations interested in pursuing community solar.

The convening will feature an overview of the National Community Solar Partnership resources, including the newly expanded technical assistance program, to explore opportunities to increase equitable deployment of community solar and community-owned solar. Guest speakers from the Partnership will discuss how to leverage technical assistance and other National Community Solar Partnership resources to support community solar development in your community.

When: September 29, 2021, 1 pm Central Time

Register Here.

CCC students get hands-on experience climbing wind turbines

By KSNB, News Channel Nebraska

HASTINGS, Neb. — Central Community College students got some hands-on experience climbing up a 400-foot wind turbine Tuesday. Students involved in the energy technology program are taught about wind, solar and battery storage energy at the Hastings campus. For the wind portion of their learning, they are required to make the climb. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted
CCC introduces unique renewable energy program
, Hastings Tribune, August 28, 2019

Links to More Information About Nebraska Wind & Solar Technology Programs

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Additional Recommended Reading/Resources

About The IREC

For nearly 40 years, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council has made clean energy possible for millions of Americans through cutting-edge solutions that advance renewable energy, electric grid modernization, and energy efficiency. 

Today, our work continues in response to the urgent need to transition to clean energy—to mitigate climate change, improve the resiliency of our communities, and ensure all people benefit from a just transition to a clean energy future.

In 2021, IREC merged with The Solar Foundation, a national nonprofit that has led the advancement of solar energy and solar-compatible technologies since 1977. Together, we are excited to deepen our impact across all clean energy technologies.

OPPD reaches customer-owned generation milestone

By Julie Wasson, OPPD Customer Service, The Wire

On June 28, 2021, OPPD received its 500th customer-owned generation (COG) interconnection application. This was the 165th application received so far this year, which is on track to be a 500% increase in interconnection applications over last year.

OPPD kicked off a multi-team project in 2019 to improve the COG application process using new, state-of-the-art online application software. The application software went live in April 2020 and, so far, more than 20 different solar installers have used the online application on behalf of mutual customers. Without the new online application process, the volume the utility has seen this year would not have been possible. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Battery project makes room for more rooftop solar in Decorah, Alliant Energy News Release
A free DOE webinar on the project will be offered on July 30 at 12:00 p.m. CDT. Anyone interested in learning more can join by 
registering here

Hay helps rural Nebraskans explore clean energy options

By Russell Shaffer | Rural Prosperity Nebraska, Nebraska Today

Making the switch to clean energy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. John Hay, a Nebraska Extension educator who conducts workshops on solar energy, helps individuals make the decision that best suits their home, farm, ranch or business.

“Success isn’t always choosing to install solar,” he said. “Success is doing a good analysis of the resources to make the best decision.” Since 2007, Hay has conducted workshops through Nebraska Extension to educate farmers, homeowners and rural business owners on the process of installing clean energy technology. Continue reading here.

Links to Extension Resources
Utility Scale Wind 
Small Wind 
Wind Measuring Towers
Solar Electric Systems 
Solar Economic Analysis 
Utility Scale Solar
Solar Water Pumping
Solar Electric on the Farm

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

  • DOE Announces $22 Million for Energy Research Projects in Underserved Regions WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $22 million in funding for nine projects covering a range of energy research topics from grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, and advanced manufacturing. These projects are located in communities traditionally underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding so that all parts of the country are central to efforts to solve the climate crisis and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects Include University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE ($2,940,000): Developing and applying new experimental and computational tools to understand dynamics of chemical reactions in organic materials.
  • Lincoln to receive $2.7 million grant, StarTran plans to buy new electric buses, KOLN
    The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding Lincoln with an almost $2.7 million federal transit grant, and all of that money is heading to the city’s bussing system. With this grant, Lincoln’s StarTran will get 3 brand new electric buses and two new charging stations. These new electric buses will replace three 2006 diesal buses. The company says this grant will ultimately help the environment and the thousands of people who use Lincoln’s bus system every day.
  • OPPD moving to diversify prairie program, The Wire
    Changes are underway for OPPD’s “Prairie in Progress” pollinator program. The plan largely involves replanting some areas that did not take off as well as OPPD officials had hopedThe program, which began in 2018, is a joint effort between Environmental Affairs and Building Services & Operations personnel, the Save Our Monarchs Foundation, and grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
  • Aurora hosts ribbon cutting for new electric vehicle charging station, NPPD News Release
    Nebraska Public Power District will partner with the city of Aurora for a ribbon cutting event on Friday, June 25 at 3 p.m. The ribbon cutting kicks off the availability of Aurora’s first ChargePoint DC fast charger charging station, located downtown on the corner of 12th and N Street.
  • Unicameral Update – Session Review: Natural Resources, Senator Bruce Bostelman
    Included in the review:: LB507, introduced by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, prohibits the use of treated seed in the production of ethanol if its use results in the generation of a byproduct that is deemed unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. Under LB650,, introduced by Sen. Michael Flood of Norfolk and passed on a vote of 48-1, the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will regulate facilities that inject carbon dioxide through wells into underground geologic formations for permanent or short-term storage.
  • Nebraska Embarks on Major Carbon Capture Initiatives, Environment + Energy Leader
    Chief Industries, Inc. and Catahoula Resources have entered into an agreement to jointly develop carbon capture and permanent sequestration (CCS) within 
    Nebraska.
  • Most U.S. wind capacity built since 2011 is located in the center of the country, EIA
    Wind capacity in the United States has increased significantly over the past decade, from 40.1 gigawatts (GW) in January 2011 to 118.3 GW at the end of 2020. This wind capacity growth was mostly concentrated in the middle of the country.

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Announces Support for the Most Comprehensive and Equitable Climate and Energy Plan in the Nation

Illinois will be carbon-free by 2045 without the huge bailouts Exelon demanded.

SPRINGFIELD – After more than three years of community organizing and leadership, today the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) announced its support for the nation’s most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy plan proposed by Governor Pritzker.

“After years of hard work and community collaboration, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is proud to support Governor Pritzker’s energy proposal, the only plan which takes a monumental leap forward on climate change and equity. ICJC welcomed the opportunity to work with the Governor, legislators, and community stakeholders to help bring this plan to fruition. Read the entire news release here.

Governor J. B. Pritzker is a member of the following coalition:

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. Alliance states have shown in recent years that bold climate action can help drive economic growth across multiple industries. Together, Alliance states have built a foundation of ambitious climate action that provides a durable roadmap for national policy makers and the Biden Administration.

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PODCAST

TechTank Podcast Episode 21: Is Biden’s American Jobs Plan the beginning of a Tech New Deal?

On this episode of the TechTank podcast, host Nicol Turner Lee talks with experts about economic trends associated with the critical infrastructure investments included in the planWhy America Needs a Tech New Deal, and what opportunities and challenges exist for job growth in the tech sector.

Guests include Algernon Austin, senior researcher at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, Allison Scott, chief executive officer of the Kapor Center Foundation, and Rikin Thakker, chief technology officer of the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

Recommended Reading

THE SOO GREEN LINK

Updates to nation’s power grid affects Northeast Iowa’s energy industry, KWWL

MONONA, Iowa (KWWL/CNN) — Efforts are currently underway to upgrade the nation’s power grid, and it has some ties to Northeast Iowa’s energy industry. The project is called, ‘The Soo Green Link.” It’s a $2.5 billion dollar project and plans to build ‘Underground transmission lines along railroads and highways.’ The Biden administration has proposed for Congress to invest $100 billion dollars on power infrastructure for renewable energy, an effort that could be made more cost effective due to tax credits in Biden’s plan.

BRIEF VIDEOS RECAP HIGHLIGHTS OF CLEANPOWER 2021

Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition at CLEANPOWER 2021, by Bridget Williams, American Clean Power Association

The CLEANPOWER 2021 Virtual Summit set the perfect stage to shine a spotlight on the industry. We heard from industry leaders and disruptors, stakeholders and innovators, lawmakers and allies to who shared insights and issued a call to action to drive forward the country’s transition to a majority clean power future. No matter your role in the industry, there was something for everyone at CLEANPOWER. Attendees joined us from across the nation, and even the globe, to hear from political leaders, subject matter experts and industry VIPs as we sit poised for an energy revolution. The conference theme, “Accelerating the Energy Transition,” united the week around the major idea that renewable energy is a term of the past. Renewable energy is just energy, and it’s ready to power the future. 

WORLD CHANGING IDEA

At these low-income apartment buildings, solar power helps pay for free Wi-Fi, Fast Company

In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, nearly 40% of low-income households don’t have internet access. It’s a challenge across many parts of New York City that became especially apparent during the pandemic, when many children were loaned laptops for distance learning but couldn’t log on to use them. But some affordable apartment buildings in the area will soon begin offering free Wi-Fi—funded through solar power on the roof.

“We wanted to do a big solar install, and at the same time, others were talking about Wi-Fi,” says John Crotty, principal at the Workforce Housing Group, the affordable housing development organization that is launching the new program in Crown Heights and in the nearby neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York. “I thought, Why don’t we put the savings into Wi-FI?”

EVENT IDEA OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO NEBRASKA SOLAR BUSINESSES

Green Jobs in Action; Live Solar Installation Event to be held in Arlington Virginia by Solar Energy World June 14-17, Solar Energy World Release, PRNewswire

Nebraskans for Solar Proposal: If any Nebraska solar businesses would like to host a similar event — live, virtual, or both — we would be happy to help publicize it. Email us at: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com