Friday, August 04, 2006

Sustainable Energy Fund's Solar Scholars Spend Week Looking to the Sun for Energy Alternatives

Press Release from Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern PA

August 4, 2006 (Allentown, PA) While the debate continues over rising gas prices, global warming and concerns about an impending energy crisis, some dedicated and talented Pennsylvania college students are doing their part towards developing alternatives to fossil fuels. As participants in Solar ScholarsTM - a first-in-the-nation solar energy educational program - these students are taking part in an intensive, weeklong solar energy training, designing and building a solar array to generate electricity and energy.

The weeklong event will be held August 7-11, 2006, at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pa). It is sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) of Central Eastern Pennsylvania, which created Solar Scholars. The SEF is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to renewable energy, clean energy technologies, energy conservation and education, based in Allentown, Pa.

Solar Scholars provides university-level students in Pennsylvania in-depth, hands-on study,
training and research in photovoltaics (or PV) - the use of solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. It offers funding and incentives for students to design, build, operate and maintain a "solar system of significant impact" on their campus, as part of an overall academic curriculum in renewable and sustainable energy.

Bucknell University is among the six Pennsylvania colleges and universities selected for the Solar Scholars pilot program. The other five selected are: Clarion University (Clarion, Pa. - Clarion County); Mercyhurst College (Erie - Erie County); Messiah College (Grantham - Cumberland County); The Pennsylvania State University (University Park - Centre County); and Villanova University (Villanova - Delaware County).

Select students from each of these six schools also receive financial sponsorship to attend a weeklong training and certification workshop on applied photovoltaics - as is being held at Bucknell, August 7-11. The first three days are classroom-based study. The last two days will be field work, during which the students will design and install a 2.5 kilowatt PV solar array on the Bucknell campus.

The training is being led by Solar Energy International (SEI), a leading provider of education and training in renewable energy technologies ( Equipment is being provided by Mesa Solar, a Pennsylvania-based (Malvern) and woman-owned energy and environmental services company (

The SEF created Solar Scholars to help "jumpstart" Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), set forth by Act 213 and signed into law by Governor Edward G. Rendell. Act 213 mandates that a certain percentage of electric energy in Pennsylvania be derived from clean, renewable sources, and sets ambitious goals for solar energy, in particular.

Solar Scholars is a way "to begin building thought leadership and the foundation for a sustainable market for PV technology right here in Pennsylvania," explains Dr. Rex A. D'Agostino, President & Executive Director of The SEF.

"We're in the midst of a global energy crisis and will all be faced with some very important and perhaps difficult decisions about our energy choices," D'Agostino says. "It's critical that those decisions are informed by science, and business- and technology-based. That's why Solar Scholars is targeting college students - they are in the best position to make an immediate impact and will drive those important energy policy and technology decisions upon entering the workforce."

The Solar Scholars mission is to partner with academia to develop long-term, practical solutions to critical energy issues, as well as innovative applications of PV technology. It aims to cultivate the "solar energy leaders, policy-makers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

Each of the six schools is a member of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy (PCIEP), an alliance of 56 Pennsylvania colleges and universities that works with the Pa. Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) on sustainable development issues.

PCIEP Director Donald A. Brown says: "Pennsylvania colleges and universities are providing a model for national leadership in developing alternatives to fossil fuels, moving the U.S. towards energy independence, and reducing the environmental impact of current energy practices."

Solar Scholars is poised for expansion throughout Pennsylvania. Its goal is for a PV solar installation on each of the Commonwealth's 152 campuses.
For more information about Solar Scholars or The SEF, visit:

About The SEF: Founded in 1999 by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, The SEF is a non-profit organization that promotes, develops and invests in clean energy initiatives to benefit customers within the PPL energy service territory and throughout Pennsylvania. SEF is headquartered in Allentown, Pa.

1 comment:

Lucas said...

I wonder how that will change energy service providers in the future?