Workshop to offer solar energy education

By Katie Demeria

The Virginia Cooperative Extension will allow local residents the chance to learn more about harnessing the powering of the sun next month.

The cooperative extension, along with the Virginia Department of Mine, Minerals, and Energy, will host a workshop on solar photovoltaics, or PV, on May 17 in Front Royal.

John Ignosh of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, along with Jeff Gilbert, co-founder of Chesapeake Solar, will be teaching the workshop.

Individuals from Virginia Clean Cities will also make a presentation on how solar electric systems can integrate with electric vehicle charging systems.

“Solar PV systems are the solar panels that you may have seen sometimes on rooftops, businesses, schools, homes, that type of thing,” Ignosh said. “It’s an introductory workshop, so it’s basically just to understand how the system works.”

The workshop is not intended to train people on how to install solar systems on their properties. It is instead meant to inform the public on potential energy sources of which they may not be aware, Ignosh said.

“Anyone that’s interested in just learning more about the basics of these systems should come,” he said. “Farmers, homeowners, business owners — it’s going to be open to all.”

Those registered so far have been all over the board, he added.

“If people want to know, well what is a solar PV panel, what is efficiency, how do they work, then they can go to this workshop,” Ignosh said.

“People are oftentimes interested in learning more about different energy converter technologies, even if they’re not considering putting them on their own property,” Ignosh said. “They’ve heard of solar energy and want to learn more about it even if it’s not something they’d consider putting on their farm now.”

Solar energy can be useful depending on the situation, he said. Each person may have different reasons for setting it up, and the point of the workshop is to educate residents enough to understand those reasons on their own.

Sometimes, for example, a farmer may be looking for an alternative watering system for livestock that may be too expensive with traditional energy sources. Solar energy could be a money-saving alternative.

“People come in with misconceptions about the financial aspects of these types of projects,” he said. “These types of workshops are good ways of understanding, in a Virginia context and in realistic terms, what these systems might look like from a financial perspective.”

“When you have that knowledge you’re able to figure out where some appropriate uses of these systems may or may not be and identify where they make some sense,” he added.

The cost of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workshop, which includes lunch, is $20. To register, go to www.ext.vt.edu.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com