Solar workshops at this year’s Energy Fair

Many solar workshops will be offered at this year’s Aug. 7-8 Energy Fair at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. Some are new, and others are updates from previous programs.

“Why Adding Solar Panels to Schools is the Key to Our Renewable Energy Future” is a new presentation. Glen Kizer has been working quietly for several years in Illinois helping school systems secure solar electric demonstration units on their buildings. He feels the only real barrier to solar energy in the Midwest is a lack of education. Adding solar to schools helps to overcome this barrier.

Inverters are the heart and brains of a pv system. They convert d.c. current from solar panels to a.c. and match the quality of the power provided by the utility. Dave Merrill’s new presentation, “Inverters Can Be Fun,” will help participants develop a better understanding of how they work, what they do, and some of the choices consumers have for their pv systems.

Another new workshop will be given by Julia Steege, a high school senior from Madison, Wis. Her award-winning presentation documents why Soldiers Grove, Wis., remains a “qualified” solar success story after celebrating its 30th birthday as the world’s first solar village.

Two leading solar businessmen in Illinois will be featured speakers at this year’s event. Mark Burger of Spire Solar Chicago will update participants on the “Status of PV throughout the World and through Illinois.” Spire operates a solar panel assembly plant on a former brownfield site. The firm is the leading installer of pv systems in Illinois. Brandon Leavitt of Solar Service in Niles will bring us up to date on solar hot water installations with his presentation, “25 Years of Solar Thermal in Illinois.” His long commitment to installing and servicing solar systems has benefited both home owners and business interests.

Richard Orawiek of Fennville, Mich., will cover “New Technologies in Solar Thermal” focusing on evacuated heat tube pipe collectors for radiant heating.

Popular presenters from previous energy fairs will return. Jim Lamb’s program on the effective and economical use of solar energy is targeted at home owners and will cover pv and solar heating systems as well as appliances and efficient transportation. John Berton has modified his system, the first off-grid pv system in Chicago, to make it grid intertied. He will explain why he installed this particular 2.2 kW system and the steps, materials and skills needed. He also converted a Toyota pickup truck to an electric vehicle to be charged with excess power produced by a pv system.

Aur Beck will explain different kinds of renewable products and systems and how they all work together in “Getting Energized with Renewable Energy.” He will also discuss state rebate and grant programs that can cover 50 percent of the costs of a solar electric or solar hot water system.

Roald Gunderson will inform visitors how an attached solar greenhouse can add comfortable, energy-saving living space providing solar heat, daylight, year-round growing, preheated hot water, and air and water cleaning.

These programs should answer the questions people have when they explore solar installations.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!