College Expands Solar Energy Legacy

Crowder College in Missouri has a legacy of advancing solar energy, and now they’re adding other renewable energy technologies to the mix. Congressman Roy Blunt announced a $1 million appropriation for Crowder College to build the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (MARET) Center on the college campus.

“Crowder is already nationally recognized for designing energy efficient homes and cars. (The college’s) Alternative Energy Department is taking the next step in meeting the challenge of making practical use of energy efficient conservation practices and applications,” Blunt said. The purpose of the MARET Center will be to expand the renewable and alternative energy industry in the region by providing training for businesses and industry, hands-on research and application, facilities and support for new-business start-ups, as well as providing new educational programs. The building design, construction, and operation will model best practices in renewable energy technology. Crowder College has a history of success in alternative energy projects, including: designed and built the first solar-powered vehicle to cross the United States, competed in the first World Solar Challenge in Australia and finished second behind General Motors, and competed in the first Ethanol Vehicle Challenge. A solar home built for the 2002 Solar Decathlon project, and later installed near the fitness trail for the campus, gets 100 percent of its electricity, hot water, and heating and cooling from solar technologies. In addition, the 688 square foot home’s solar design powered a home office and generated enough energy to operate an electric car. Crowder’s MARET Center is planned to provide many economic benefits to the region including increased jobs in the renewable energy industry. The Department of Energy estimates that 35.5 jobs are created for every megawatt of solar energy installed. MARET Center will assist in the acceleration of research and development in the alternative energy market and contribute to the reduction of outflow of Missouri resources expended on energy. “This appropriation will give us a great start toward securing the funding for equipping the building with the necessary technology to expand instructional programs and services to our community,” College President Steven Gates said. “We hope to provide existing businesses and industries in the renewable energy field with a place to test and develop new products, a place to learn about renewable energy building and design, and to provide support for new business start-ups in the renewable energy field.” The St. Louis architectural firm of Kromm, Rikimaru and Johansen is designing the center in collaboration with specialists in renewable energy technologies
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