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Solar Tree Gives CVTC Students Alternative Energy Experience

A newly installed “solar tree” is giving students in seven energy-related programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College the chance to investigate solar energy’s potential in their future career fields.

The solar tree, a double-sided solar panel that sits atop a pole located outside the lab that houses CVTC’s Energy Demonstration Program, is providing hands-on experience with solar energy for students in the college’s Agriscience, Electrical Power Distribution, Landscape and Turf Management, Electric Line Work Apprenticeship, Residential Construction, and Environmental Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Heating Service Technician programs.
“The whole purpose of this test project is for us to demonstrate to our students the potential of these different types of systems,” said Aliesha Crowe, dean of the Energy, Agriculture, Construction, and Technology programs at CVTC.

“Here we can show students the various types of solar technology being instituted,” Crowe said.  “Large-scale solar installations might not work in western Wisconsin, but this shows our students the kinds of solar technology that many homes and businesses in our area are using.”

The solar tree installed recently outside of CVTC’s Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Avenue, was designed and installed by Next Step Energy Systems of Eau Claire. 

This initial project is but a prototype, as CVTC has long-range plans to build an Energy Education Center near its campus on Eau Claire’s west side that could include a full “solar canopy,” Crowe said.  Such a canopy would provide power for the center and more educational opportunities for students, she said.

Anyone interested in the productivity of CVTC’s new solar tree can track how much energy has been collected by logging onto the following website:

As of Feb. 13, the solar tree had produced 13.5 kilowatt hours of energy, enough to power 41 light bulbs for one day.

“Obviously, that’s not a lot of energy, but generating a lot of energy isn’t the goal with this,” Crowe said.”  The whole point of this project is to demonstrate the technology.”