Renewable Energy Volume 14 issue 1-4 1998

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
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
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.
Solar energy education; Sustainable development; Global survey; Energy databases; Public awareness program
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, 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.
S.M. HASNAIN et al.
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)
Level / Types of
Teaching Programs
*School Education
*Short Courses /
Course Structure at
(Subjects covered with
Credit Hours)
*Diploma Level
*Undergraduate Level
*Postgraduate Level
Dissemination of Solar
Energy Education through
*Popular Articles/Papers
*Text Books/Project
eTeacher's Guide
Availability of
*Short Courses
*Teaching Resource
*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
Table 2. Information regarding Questionnaire to/from Industrialised and Developing Countries
Develo p~i
Total number
of countries
Number of
Number of
organisations in
Number of
organisations in
non- respondent
Responses received
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
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,
• The Centre for Alternative
Technology, Machynlleth,
Powys, England
• Sandia National
* Energy Education Centre of
Victoria, VCAH Limited Burnley Campus, Victoria,
• The AMSET Centre, DeMontfort University,
Leicester, UK.
* Florida Solar Energy Centre,
Cape Canaveral, Florida,
• School of Engineering,
University of Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia
• School of Built Environment,
University of Ulster, North
• Zhi Xin Middle School,
Guangzhou, Guangtung,
• School of Engineering,
University College of FalunBorlange, Borlange, Sweden
• Southwest Educational
Development Laboratory,
Austin, Texas, USA
• Brace Research Institute,
McGill University, Quebec,
• 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,
Research, Devi Ahilya
Vishwavidyalaya, Indore,
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
• 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
• 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 (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.
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 (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
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.
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. Degree Courses (taught/research) on solar energy are required to
be arranged for the creation of appropriate technical manpower in the field of solar for sustainable
development. In addition a well organised solar energy information database/network is required to be
established. Organising relevant workshops and seminars could also play a significant role in increasing the
public awareness about utilising solar energy.
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