By YES! Coordinator Kory Klebe
“Oh…the sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow.” That was the phrase going through everybody’s head at the West-Central Solar YES! Winter Workshop, held at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near Spicer, MN. The 3 YES! teams that attended this workshop were Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (ACGC), Dream Academy, and New London-Spicer (NLS).
The day started with “Solar Panels 101” presented by Dan Tepfur of Kandiyohi Power Cooperative. When most people think of electricity they think of flipping a switch to turn their appliances or lights on. So this was a great lesson on electricity talking about volts, N-type semiconductors, and AC/DC (the current –not the band). The students learned that we can create 1000 watts/square meter of solar panel.
Next to take the stage was Jenna Totz with Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy. She posed some interesting questions to the participants which included “How is solar connected to climate change?” The students figured out pretty quickly that using the sun’s renewable resource to make electricity is a step in the right direction to helping our environment. They also learned that MN is ahead of the national average in using 16.5% renewable resources for our energy consumption (the national average is 5%).
Then right before lunch Dave Pederson, PWELC Executive Director, took the students on a tour of PWELC’s solar resources. The highlight has trying to get the YES! teams to chant “I see solar YES! I do –I see solar how about you?” We did see solar. Solar voltaic panels-both fixed and tracking, solar light tubes, and solar thermal, which heats water.
The last part of the day was a quick field trip and tour of the community solar array at Kandiyohi Power Cooperative (KPC). KPC has two different arrays. The bigger of the two has 190 panels on it, making it one of the bigger community solar panels in the area.
The sun never did come out for our solar workshop but in a quick one-word survey participants described the day as interesting, cool, fun, and electric. There was discussion of incorporating solar into new school addition designs and also adding solar to parking lot lights. It will be neat to see how teams might use solar power in future projects.