The solar initiative at Metropolitan Community College is part of the Sustainable Energy Technology (SNRG) program. Solar is accompanied by energy conservation and other green initiatives to provide educational pathways for students in job training and general knowledge.
Solar is a growing technology nationally and very well suited for the Midwest with over 300 sunny days per year. Nebraska is ranked ninth in the nation for sunlight availability by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.NREL.gov). The immediate area around Omaha provides the annual average of about five hours per day of usable solar exposure - more in summer, less in winter. This means a solar collector in Omaha can harvest 5 kW of energy per square foot per day.
Solar classes at MCC were first taught in 2009 starting with a general renewable energy course covering wind, energy conservation, transportation, passive and active solar. In 2010, the Nebraska Energy Office (www.neo.ne.gov) provided a grant to develop curriculum and purchase equipment to enlarge the renewable course offerings. The NEO grant was instrumental in launching an effective solar program and will pay dividends throughout the state.
New one-of-a-kind Solar course offers cross-over with construction trades. SNRG 1265 - Solar Hydronic Systems - will be offered Spring 2012! See course description for details.
A 20' x 30' Solar Training Facility is under construction at Fort Omaha Campus. This facility, the first of its kind in Nebraska, is being added to the current horticulture greenhouse building. The facility is vital to the emerging sustainability program. Find out more in Articles & News!
Solar energy is generally divided into two main categories; passive and active. Passive solar energy is heat energy from the sun that warms a surface area from direct exposure. An example of passive energy is a glass greenhouse used for plants. Principles of passive solar are used when designing buildings to harvest daylight and warm the building during the daytime.
Active solar is energy that is transported from collection to a point of use. Active solar energy requires work in the form of a blower, pump or inverter to be used. For example, moving excess heat from the greenhouse space to inside the home requires a fan.
There are three main types of active solar energy; air, water and electric. The general public usually only considers solar electric, but in reality, solar thermal systems (air and water) have been around longer and have a better return on investment.
The solar courses available at MCC can be viewed