By Sigrunn W. Solbakk | LiCore AC

As part of its ongoing effort to build community enthusiasm for solar power in Ucareo, Michoacán, LiCore staffers hosted renewable energy workshops for students at the local high school, Colegio de Bachilleres, last week. We arrived early in the morning on a beautiful fall day. Their green campus was bathing in the morning sun with the last bit of fall foliage holding on to the trees. Everywhere you looked there were pears on the ground from the many pear trees all around the campus. Teachers and administrators welcomed us as always in their friendly way and we set up in one of the classrooms.

During these two days most of the teachers were attending a seminar in Morelia and the school, but they had been kind enough to allow us to speak with students in their absence. Sasha, a LiCore staffer and renewable energy expert, prepared a thorough program for the participating students and guided them through the day with a steady hand. Twenty-one students between the ages of 15 and 18 attended the first day.

During the first part of the workshop, the students learned about different categories of energy by working in groups to brainstorm energy types. The students then divided their contributions into renewable and non-renewable:

Afterwards they focused specifically on solar energy. Together, the group discussed different types of solar radiation, climatic and geographic pre-conditions for solar energy and the different types of solar panels. Many of the students were already familiar with solar-powered water heaters since many people have already installed these systems in their homes in Ucareo. The students were very enthusiastic and eager to answer questions.

The students were surprised to learn about Mexico’s high potential for solar power. Mexico experiences very high solar radiation in most of the country. Few other countries have comparable potential. The climatic and geographic conditions in Mexico are therefore ideal to take advantage of renewable solar energy.

The highlight of the day occurred when the students got to examine the solar panel we had brought with us from LiCore headquarters. Everybody gathered around the panel, while Sasha explained what it was made of and how it worked:

During day’s final session, students analyzed the consumption of electrical energy in their own families by examining personal habits, electricity prices and time periods. They compared different families in relation to how many people were living in the house and discussed ways of reducing their consumption. Finally the students were shown how to design their own solar power systems by inputting different technical variables.

The second day saw a smaller group of students (about 10) participate. The workshop included the same topics, but since the group was smaller there was more time for each student to contribute his or her own thoughts. This also allowed Sascha the opportunity to go a bit deeper into the material. Overall they were two educational and exciting days, for both us and the students. We are very grateful for the wonderful cooperation we have had from the school and are looking forward to many more exchanges such as this in the next few months.