Solar Energy Basics

Course Description

The transition to renewable energy, driven by the needs of society and state-level policies requiring solar PV (photovoltaics) on every new residential structure, will make rooftop solar and energy storage ubiquitous in the United States during this decade.

This development is nothing less than a revolution in the energy industry and the U.S. job market. More than 250,000 motivated, driven, and informed individuals will be required to fill good-paying positions in solar sales, installation, financing, design, and operations positions in the year 2021 and beyond.

This course will help you understand the origins of PV technology; the development of solar PV as an energy generation resource; the value proposition of solar PV and energy storage to the typical U.S. consumer; the data communication technologies and regulatory considerations shaping the emerging energy market; and the job opportunities in this exciting field. It is intended for students interested in exploring exploring employment opportunities in solar PV and energy storage installation, sales, design, finance, and operations positions.

The course is self-paced. All assignments, quizzes, and final exams are due by the end date of the course. We strongly recommend that you make weekly progress in the lessons, quizzes and assignments. Should you need assistance, weekly virtual office hours are available or you may email the instructor at any time.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will understand:

  • The impact of solar power as an energy resource.
  • The origins of photovoltaic technology and its continuing development process.
  • The perceived value of solar and energy storage systems to the end user.
  • How data communication and cybersecurity considerations impact the technology.
  • The different types and sizes of solar power systems that exist.
  • Policies and regulations associated with solar and energy storage development.
  • Codes and standard that are relevant to solar and energy storage operation.
  • The role of Module Level Power Electronics in contemporary PV systems.
  • Economic and technical design considerations and relevant software tools.
  • How to select equipment to include in a solar and/or energy storage system.
  • The role of national and state-level trade associations in professional development.
  • Emerging building construction policies that expand the market for solar power.
  • Professional opportunities in this exciting field.


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