Solar Scholars to Become Solar Energy Leaders

To cultivate the “solar energy leaders, policy-makers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow,” the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) partnered with six Pennsylvania colleges and universities to launch Solar Scholars, a solar-energy education program for university-level students, said to be the first and only program of its kind in the nation.

As part of the academic curriculum in renewable and sustainable energy, Solar Scholars offers undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity for in-depth, hands-on study, training and research in the application of photovoltaic (PV) solar technology. The program offers funding and incentives to enable students to design, build, operate and maintain a solar system of significant impact on their campus, for which they will receive academic credit. Selected students will receive financial sponsorship to attend an intensive training and certification workshop on applied photovoltaics. The partner schools each receive a state-of-the-art, Internet-based academic curriculum on solar power and other clean energy methods. Following a competitive application process, the schools selected include Bucknell University, Clarion University, Mercyhurst College, Messiah College, The Pennsylvania State University, and Villanova University. The SEF created the Solar Scholars program to develop solutions for meeting Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), set forth by Act 213 and recently 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. The Solar Scholars program is a way “to begin building critical thought leadership and the foundation for sustainable market for PV technology right here in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Rex A. D’Agostino, President & Executive Director of The SEF. The Solar Scholars will partner with academia to develop long-term, practical solutions, as well as innovative applications of PV technology, for academic and commercial purposes. The program’s goal is to have a PV solar installation on each of the Commonwealth’s 152 campuses by 2008. Founded in 1999 by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, The SEF — a nonprofit, private organization dedicated to renewable energy, clean energy technologies, energy conservation and education — promotes, develops and invests in clean energy initiatives for its customers.

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