Pergamon Renewable Energy, Vol. 14, Nos. 1-4, pp. 387-392, 1998 © 1998 Publishedby ElsevierScienceLtd. All rights reserved Printed in Great Britain PII: S0960-1481 (98) 00094-9 0960-1481/98 $19.00+0.00 SOLAR ENERGY EDUCATION A VIABLE PATHWAY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - S. M. H A S N A I N * , S. H. A L A W A J I , A N D U. A. E L A N I Energy Research Institute, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology PO Box: 6086, Riyadh 11442, Saudi Arabia. *E-mail : [email protected] Fax : + 966-1-4813880 ABSTRACT The growing consumption of limited reserves of fossil fuels and their impact to the environment have raised global interest in harnessing solar energy. Proper knowledge of solar energy is lacking in many levels of society. Recently, the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have conducted a survey on the availability of solar energy education program around the world. It has been observed that a considerable amount of work has been done for developing solar energy technologies but relatively little attention has been paid on the role of solar energy education. This paper gives an overview of the current status of solar education program available around the globe and it also highlights the importance of the energy information network for solar education program. © 1998 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. KEY WORDS Solar energy education; Sustainable development; Global survey; Energy databases; Public awareness program INTRODUCTION Availability of cheap and abundant energy with minimum environmental and ecological hazards associated with its production and use is one of the important factors for desired improvement in the quality of life of the people living especially in developing world. The growing scarcity of fossil fuels have raised global interest in the harnessing of solar energy. Proper knowledge of solar energy is lacking in many levels of society. A major obstacle to the development of using solar energy is a presence of a large void in education process. This void can be filled by putting hectic efforts to improve the overall understanding and knowledge of reliable and environmentally sound solar energy (Bourdirous, 1991, Chartters, 1992 and Garget. al, 1992). One of the priorities in this domain is therefore to promote training and information aimed at sensitising specialists and the general public to the possible users of solar energy with particular regard to environmental concerns and the requirement of sustainable development (Hasnain et.al, 1995). Realising the importance of solar energy education for effective utilisation of solar energy technology, a survey has been conducted by the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)through a questionnaire on the availability of solar energy education programs at different education levels around the world. This paper examines the result of the survey in the area of school & university education, vocational training and energy databases. 387 388 S.M. HASNAIN et al. S O L A R E N E R G Y EDUCATIONSURVEY The main aim for designing the questionnaire was to find out: the extent to which solar energy concepts used at different education level; the course structure/subject contents; and the availability & types of teaching resource materials on a global level. The contents of the questionnaire are outlined in Fig. 1. Name & Address of the Organisation Primary Role of the Organisation • Research & Development • Teaching / Training • Academic (Education) .5 .5 Level / Types of Teaching Programs *School Education *Undergraduate *Postgraduate *Short Courses / Seminars Course Structure at (Subjects covered with Credit Hours) *Diploma Level *Undergraduate Level *Postgraduate Level ,$. .5 Dissemination of Solar Energy Education through *Popular Articles/Papers *Brochures/Leaflets *Text Books/Project Reports eTeacher's Guide ,& Availability of *Short Courses *Teaching Resource Material *Any Joint Program with other Agency Fig. 1. Main items covered in the Questionnaire on Solar Energy Education This survey was targeted 19 local and 172 foreign organisations based in 60 different countries. Five questionnaires were returned as undelivered, therefore 186 organisations are considered for further study. Names of the countries are given alphabetically in Table 1, with numerical numbers in bracket represents different organisations used for the questionnaire of that country. Table 1. List of countries selected for the survey on solar energy education Algeria (2)* Egypt (5) Libya (2) Australia (7) England (10) Malaysia (3) Austria (2) France (4) Mexico (1) Bahrain (3) Germany (8) N. Ireland (2) Bangladesh (4) Ghana (2) Netherlands (4) Barbados (1) Greece (1) Nigeria (1) Belgium (3) Hong Kong (1) *man (2) Botswana (1) Hungary (2) Pakistan (5) Brazil ( 1) India (13) Poland (2) Bulgaria (1) Iran (2) Portugal (1) Canada (5) Italy (2) Qatar (1) China (6) Japan (4) Romania (1) Costa Rica (1) Jordan (2) Russia (3) Cyprus (1) Kuwait (1) Saudi Arabia (19) Denmark (1) Lebanon (2) South Korea (2) * Numerical number in bracket shows number of addresses used in that country. Spain (1) Sri Lanka (1) Sudan (1) Sweden (2) Switzerland (2) Syria (2) Thailand (2) Tunisia (2) Turkey (4) U.AE. (2) U.S.A. (18) Ukraine (1) Venezuela (2) Yemen (1) Zimbabwe (2) Table 2, shows a detailed information of the questionnaire sent to different countries and responses received against it. 263% responses: 16.1% from industrialised and 10.2% from developing countries are received from 25 countries (11 of them are developing countries). This shows a trend of thin replies received from developing countries as compared to industrialised countries. Solar energy education 389 Table 2. Information regarding Questionnaire to/from Industrialised and Developing Countries Countries Industrialised Develo p~i Total number of countries Number of respondent countries 30 30 14 11 Number of organisations in respondent countries 65 53 Number of organisations in non- respondent countries 26 42 Responses received 30 19 Figure 2, illustrates percentage oforganisations responded tothe survey according to their principal scope. Out of 49 responded organisations, 34 institutes are found engaged in teaching activities. It is evident from this figure that 24.6% responses are received from those academic organisations, who are also engaged in R & D and Training activities. It has also been found that 22.4% of target organisations are not directly engaged in formal solar energy education program. Whereas 20.4% & 14.3% responded organisations are exclusively engaged in academic and R & D activities respectively. Fig. 20rganisations responded to the survey according to their principal scope School Education It is essential for the young scholars to learn about energy and energy sources, a changing environment and a sense of interdependence of systems on earth. Thus, it is necessary to introduce solar energy concept from the very early stage of education. The content of teaching courses on solar energy vary with the age of the student from primary to secondary school and to university level. For each level, there will be various adequate methods to design the content of the course on solar energy. In general, the content of the course for primary school is based on quality demonstration, while for secondary school and for university level, the content of the course is based on concept of quantity analysis where the aims are on measurements, calculations, system design and performance analysis. A number of organisations are engaged in developing curriculum/teaching resource materials for renewable energies especially at school level. It was found that 31% of the responded institutes out of 49 are either engaged in developing curriculum for school children or developing teaching resource materials in the area of solar energy. A list of some of those organisations/institutes is given in Table 390 S.M. HASNAIN et al. Table 3 List of Organisations/Institutions engaged in developing curriculum teaching resource materials for solar energy courses at school level • Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Group, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia • The Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Powys, England • Sandia National * Energy Education Centre of Victoria, VCAH Limited Burnley Campus, Victoria, Australia • The AMSET Centre, DeMontfort University, Leicester, UK. * Florida Solar Energy Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. • School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia • School of Built Environment, University of Ulster, North Ireland • Zhi Xin Middle School, Guangzhou, Guangtung, China • School of Engineering, University College of FalunBorlange, Borlange, Sweden • Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, Austin, Texas, USA • Brace Research Institute, McGill University, Quebec, Canada • Council for Environmental Education, University of Reading, Reading, England • National Renewable Energy * Centre for Energy Studies & Laboratory, The AMSET Centre, Golden, CO., USA. Laboratories, Education Outreach, Albuquerque, NM, USA. Research, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore, India Technical and Vocational Training Only 8.8% of institutes have courses on solar energy for vocational training/diploma level. This area could require more concentration especially in trade of electricians, plumbers etc., so that trained tradesmen can easily install, operate, maintain and look after solar equipment. University Education Solar energy courses can be a part of the regular undergraduate and postgraduate programs. This could be done by the incorporation of solar energy concepts in routine science and engineering subjects with the help of examples on heat and mass transfer process, for instance in solar collectors, solar cookers, solar desalination units, solar chimney, solar thermal and power systems, etc. It has been found through the survey that 64.7% responded organisations are conducting courses on solar energy at undergraduate/postgraduate level as a part of full fledged engineering course. It appears through the survey that only three institutes; one at University of De Montfort (UK) and the other at the University of Reading (UK) and at the University of Oldenburg (Germany) are running full fledged M. So. degree course in Renewable Energy (Solar energy). Nevertheless, it is more essential to arrange degree courses on solar energy in developing countries. Short C o u r s e s It has been found that 10.6% and 35% of the total respondent organisations are running short courses and conducting seminars/workshops on solar energy respectively. Brace Research Institute in Canada is one of the example, providing scientific, technical and practical training for persons working in the area of solar energy. Whereas, Tara Energy Research Institute in India is the only organisation, conducting training programs for government officials of different departments in order to educate them about various aspects of solar energy. It Solar energy education 39 ! also gives preliminary information about state-of-the-art of technology. Recently, UNESCO (Berkovski, 1995) has launched a unique Energy Engineering Learning Package targeting postgraduate engineers. This Learning Package is being designed to provide the type of multimedia for postgraduate energy engineers which may benefit both industrialised and developing countries through a program ofnetworkingbetween individuals, industry and educational institutions. Energy Information and Databases According to the world solar programme 1996-2005 (UNESCO, 1996), it seems that information on the potential of solar energy and its applications, for the benefit of all concerned people (e.g. decision-makers, economists, industrialists, civil servants, education sector, investors and users etc.) is extremely important to create a favourable climate for the enhanced exploitation of solar energy. It has also been observed that a number of solar networks are established around the world. For example, the International System for Energy Expertise and Knowledge [ISEEK] database was also initiated in 1994 with the objective to provide information on national governmental organisations, research centres, information centres, professional trade associations, networks, training and education activities and facilities, databases/data banks, journals and reference publications and radio-visual aids (UNESCO, 1995). A strategic project was also proposed recently on the solar energy information network in the Arab World (Balhamel, 1996) for collecting, communicating and exchanging data related to solar and other renewable energy activities. The Renewable Energy National Projects (RENP) Database was recently prepared by the Energy Research Institute at KACST. This database describes the major national projects on renewable energy in Saudi Arabia and it also provides brief information on solar thermal, photovoltaics, fuel cells, hydrogen, wind energy, geothermal and electrical energy conservation (Alawaji, et.a/, 1997). The major findings of the survey reveals that : • Only three universities of industrialised countries are conducting Master Degree Course on Solar Energy/Renewable. • Some universities in industrialised countries inducted subjects relevant to solar energy/renewable in their curriculum at university level. While, very few topics on solar energy/renewable (as elective course) are available in institutes for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in developing countries. • In developing countries, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, is the only organisation, conducting a postgraduate program in Energy Engineering. This institute is also offering a M. Tech. Program in energy studies. Keeping above points in mind, it is not out of context, to state that the proposals published earlier by Hasnain et.al (1995), regarding the induction of proposed solar energy topics in existing curriculum and proposals for holding M. Sc courses on solar energy are valid and can be adopted especially in developing countries. PUBLIC AWARENESS PROGRAMS Beside designing academic programs on solar energy, it is also necessary to enhance public awareness about utilisation of technologies based on renewable energies. Mass & print media, Exhibition and Demonstration Centres could effectively be utilised for this purpose. Publication of literature in local languages is also a very important factor for effective commercialisation of solar energy technology. A proper campaign has to be started to convince decision makers and industry leaders for the adoptation of solar energy technologies. Hasnain et.al (1995) expressed their views that even due to lack of up-to-date information on solar energy and technical expertise, personnel at institutions such as the World Bank, United Nations Departments and Agencies are often not able fairly to evaluate the technical merit or true potential of solar energy. Therefore, conducting short training course workshops, seminars or briefing sessions for such key personnel (i.e. decision makers) are need of the hour. Even, organising seminar, workshops and conferences in the related agencies like Energy Agents, Universities and Electric Utilities on the subject of solar energy is a good tool for gathering 392 S.M. HASNAIN et al. the interested people. These meetings will provide the environment to effectively present seminars about solar energy and to discuss and exchange ideas among the specialists. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS A survey is conducted on the availability of solar energy education programs around the world. The main points to be drawn from the survey are : Only three universities of industrialised countries are conducting Master Degree Courses on solar energy/renewable, while no similar course is available in developing countries. However, very few topics on solar energy/renewable (as elective course) are available in institutes for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in developing countries. • The organisations based in industrialised countries are only putting their efforts to run training courses/seminars and some of those organisations are involved in designing teaching resource materials especially for school children. While organisations in developing countries are arranging seminars, conferences for technical personnel not targeting the young generation and non-technical personnel. In conclusion, it is recommended to include solar energy subjects in the current curriculum at every level of education especially in developing countries. 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