Solar Fair Brightens Glendale

Sal Polcino, Staff Writer

A few clouds didn’t stop the sun from powering the Solar Faire at San Rafael Plaza on Saturday April 6, where Glendale community members gathered to learn how to harness renewable energy.

The Solar Schoolhouse partnered with Glendale Water and Power and the Glendale Unified School District to host the event, which presented solar energy education with an emphasis on fun.

Slideshow Photos By Kathy Bakowicz

Hands-on and interactive exhibits delighted kids of all ages. Parents and children tried their hands at making solar ovens out of pizza boxes and foil or making solar whirligigs from old CDs. The planetarium provided free shows throughout the day and volunteers handed out T-shirts.

John Salas of Glendale and his 8-year-old son Gabe donned protective goggles and used a magnifying glass to etch images into a piece of wood. Salas said the process took patience and a steady hand. “It takes about fifteen minutes,”  Salas said.

Volunteer students demonstrated solar battery chargers that put out 3.5 volts and are made from a single solar tile, which can charge any device with a USB plug. There were water pumps fueled by solar energy and a contest to design them.

Tor Allen, the director of the Solar Schoolhouse and the Rahus Institute, said the focus of the fair is  education. “This is the second year we have held this event. It started out as a resource for educators then opened up to the community,” he said

The Rahus Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to research, education and the implementation of renewable energy.

Workers built rugged sun ovens out of hardwood and glass. “We wanted to show the community how to build ovens and use them safely,” Allen said. “These ovens can heat up to 200 or 300 degrees.”

GWP workers ran an information booth and local solar panel installers were there to answer questions about how solar energy works and the costs and benefits of installation.

SunGreen Systems Project Manager Conor Casey said his company donated and installed solar panels to the Habitat for Humanity’s Geneva Build Project on Geneva Street in Glendale. “There are panels that deliver two kilowatts on each house,”  Casey said.

SunGreen had solar panels on display demonstrating how voltage differences are controlled.

In 2008 GWP and Chevron Energy Solutions installed 872 solar panels above the GCC parking structure, which have been quietly putting out 400 megawatt hours of renewable energy each year.

For more information on the Solar Schoolhouse visit http://solarschoolhouse.org.