A hands on approach to alternative energy solutions
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS In front of his wood pellet burning stove, Stephen Kew-Goodale, executive director of the Weatherly Institute For Robotics and Engineering discusses his upcoming Alternative Energy Solutions workshop.
So, you're determined to make a difference. Sure, everyone has their only reasons - some want to save money heating and cooling their home, some want to reduce the pace of global warming, others want to help the U.S. to move towards energy independence. You want to do something, but you're not sure what is it that you want to do.
That's just the problem, and the solution is a series of hands-on workshops in alternative energy solutions offered by the Weatherly Institute For Robotics and Engineering.
The series of 10 classes leads a participant from understanding the climate of the Earth to putting together an alternative energy system that can take advantage of such energy options as: solar, wind, geothermal and fuel cells.
Class session will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. from April 12 through May 12, and will take place at the First Presbyterian Church in Weatherly.
The classes are taught by Stephen Kew-Goodale, executive director of WIRE and the designer of the Penn State - Hazleton Campus Alternative Energy curriculum.
"As people become increasingly aware of the changes in the global climate, and the effect on the planet," noted Kew-Goodale, "I've become increasingly alarmed by the fact that people don't seem to grasp the severe changes that may occur and the contributions humans make to causing those changes."
"I have been trying to get all age levels to understand the science behind what has been a heated debate," he continued as he sat in front of his wood pellet burning stove. "The youth will have to live with the coming changes to the planet.
"I'm teaching them about it using models and toys, and projects that they can work on to demonstrate the principals behind global climate change."
The 10-part series begins on April 12 with an Introduction. "The Introduction class covers the science behind how temperature is controlled on Earth, how sunlight affects the planet, and how climate works."
The classes that follow the Introduction are: April 14 - Passive Solar, April 19 - Active Solar, April 21 - Wind 1, April 26 - Wind 2, April 28 - Geothermal 1, May 3 - Geothermal 2, May 5 - Fuel Cells 1, May 10 - Fuel Cells 2, and May 12 - Putting It All Together.
"We're living in a postindustrial age, but we continue using fossil fuels as our main energy source," he said. "It's a limited resource."
"Companies are drilling 5,000 feet into the sea beds to recover oil - a very expensive proposition. The Marcellus Shale, where they have to drill a mile through bedrock to reach the shale-another very expensive proposition. The obvious conclusion is, that if there was an easier way, they certainly wouldn't go through all this effort to get to the oil."
Kew-Goodale points to additional complications that include foreign policy, uncertainty of supply, and the tie between fossil fuels and global warming.
He believes people are resisting change largely because they are unfamiliar, and therefore uncomfortable, with these fledgling technologies. That's why the workshops are being offered to the public.
The program for adults - new home buyers who have a vested interest in their future, middle-aged people who want to understand the changing technologies, and seniors who need to decide how to heat their homes on a limited budget.
Kew-Goodale is taking a hands-on approach to the workshops. In most classes, participants will work on model kits it the technology being studied. "They will see the effect of what they are working on," he said.
With alternate energy, no one solution works by itself. "Alternative energy is a combination of solutions. Solar doesn't work when its cloudy, and wind doesn't work when it's calm," Kew-Goodale said, "but if you put wind and solar together, they work in most kinds of weather."
Participants may choose one or as many classes as interests them. There is a charge for the sessions. For information and to register, call: 570-401-7813, or email: email@example.com.