Technical college plants solar tree on campus
Chippewa Valley Technical College installed a metal tree composed of solar panels on its campus last month. The solar tree has been up for a month and provides renewable energy for the greenhouse.
Dean of Energy, Agriculture and Technology Aliesha Crowe said the tree is a continuation of CVTC’s plan to add renewable energy technologies to its programs.
“As we plan for our future program development and facilities, we see this as this the beginning steps to additional technologies demonstration and program integration,” Crowe said.
Crowe said the total cost of the project was around $10,000, but the cost was defrayed by donations and support from a grant. The company who installed it, Next Step Energy in Eau Claire, also provided in-kind support to CVTC for the project.
The tree project’s main goal is to provide a learning experience for the students involved in CVTC’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning program, Crowe said. Some of the HVAC students were involved in the installation of the tree and have access to it for learning purposes.
“The technology that’s in the solar tree is relevant to the programs we have in existence,” Crowe said. “This particular project showed a different technology than what we already have in our program and equipment.”
Joe Maurer has worked for Next Step Energy for three years and was the primary designer involved with the project. Maurer said the design process was a collaboration and
involved the combination of four disciplines. He said it was one of the more creative solar panel projects he’s been involved with.
“Solar energy discipline, artist, metal fabrication and engineering,” Maurer said. “It was a lot of fun. It was working with some people on something we saw a lot of potential for.”
Maurer said he would welcome the opportunity to work with UW-Eau Claire on a similar project in the future and hopes the university would be interested in such a project.
“We’d love to do a whole forest of them.”