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The Florida Solar Energy Center’s Worldwide Influence

The Florida Solar Energy Center is one of the leaders in researching and developing new types of solar technology. The FSEC is located in Cocoa, Florida and is an institute dedicated to research of solar technology that is connected to the University of Central Florida. It is the largest solar research of its kind in the United States to be completely state and government funded.

The Florida Solar Energy Center specializes in researching, testing, certification, and training in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The FSEC states that its mission is to develop new solar energy technology that will help both Florida and the nation’s environment and economy. 

They focus on a wide range of educational, training, research, and certification activities, and have received much recognition for their efforts both nationally and around the globe as well. The Florida Solar Energy Center employs ninety five professionals from various disciplines who are all dedicated to researching and developing exciting new advancements in solar energy and other renewable energy technology.

History of the Florida Solar Energy Center

The FSEC was created by the Florida Legislature and the Florida Energy Commission in 1974 to be the state’s primary energy research and development facility and has since been one of the world’s leaders in this field. 

florida solar energy centerThe 1980’s saw the center focused mainly on photovoltaic solar technology, before they moved on to more advanced technologies dealing with solar heating and cooling and also using photovoltaic solar panels as a way to reduce air pollution and increase the quality of air indoors to combat several different health issues.

The FSEC has since diversified their research to include a number of different types of renewable and environmentally friendly energy, but they are still one of the leaders in both photovoltaic and solar thermal technology, and they have a least a small hand in many of the most exciting recent developments in the field of solar energy research.

Research Contributions

The Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division of the research institute is dedicated to researching and providing consumers, contractors, and the general public with the most up to date and accurate information regarding the use and possibilities of photovoltaic solar energy. The institute has a dedicated testing and certification facility for ensuring that new PV technologies and products meet certain specifications. 

 
This certification is necessary for any components that are being installed in any solar system which has received federal funding. This is the main testing and certification facility in the United States, therefore most new photovoltaic components are first tested here before being put into practical use or installed in the field. This certification is essential for all new products, thus the Florida Solar Energy Center has a large hand in ensuring that new and exciting solar technologies are perfected before they reach the consumer market.
 

Educational Opportunities

florida solar energy centerThe FSEC has a team dedicated to providing solar educational opportunities for children from kindergarten all the way to college. Their team has continually produced some of the most student friendly lesson plans, activities, and curriculum for students of all age ranges, most of which can be found for free on the FSEC website

The institute is also a leading developer of solar education plans for use in university and college curriculums. The staff is composed mainly of faculty from the University of Central Florida who are experts in the fields of solar energy and education. 

In addition to these educational programs, they also run the SunSmart program. SunSmart provides information and advocates the installation and use of photovoltaic solar panels on schools and educational institutions for use in both producing energy as well as teaching the students about the benefits and possibilities associated with using PV solar energy.

Training and Certification Activities

Along with developing educational programs for schoolchildren and college students alike, this institute is also one of the United States’ leaders in solar education, training, and certification for adults. This continuing education program is focused on training and certifying individuals to work in different aspects of the solar energy field. There are several different programs within this area that the center sponsors or works in cooperation with including the Employ Florida Banner Center and the Southeast Training Network. 

The Employ Florida Banner Center is a state funded program under the Florida Workforce program which provides education and training opportunities for those students who wish to specialize in the field of renewable energy. After completing the training program and receiving a certification, the Employ Florida Banner Center then helps to provide placements and job opportunities in the student’s particular area of expertise. 

The Southeast Training Network is a program whereby the Florida Solar Energy Center provides training to numerous educational facilities throughout the southeast United States. They provide training to a few individuals from the different institutions, and these individuals are then able to pass their training on to students at their own institution. 

This training network is part of the United States Solar Installer Instructor Training Network, which consists of seven different regions, with the institute being responsible for the southeast region. Along with being responsible for the region, the FSEC was also responsible for leading the way towards developing the Solar Installer Instructor Training Network. In October 2009, the FSEC received a $2.8 million grant from the United States Department of Energy to help being one of the leading institutions responsible for the development and creation of this training network.


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