Solar Power 101 - Self Study


Author: Scott Sklar

Subjects: Solar: Design and Installation, Solar: Energy Finance

1,567 students are interested in this course


Welcome to solar! Enroll in this training to learn about solar technology, the business, finance, technical and engineering sides of solar, and the emerging renewable energy market.

Learning Objectives

Ready To Sign Up Today? Click Here to Enroll

Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

This is a self-study, self-paced online course. You can begin instantly upon enrollment and complete the course materials at your own pace.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Not Eligible for Continuing Education Credits or Certificates

Since this is a free course, it is not eligible for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) and has not been approved by any credentialing organizations (NABCEP, AIA, USGBC etc). This course is for self education purposes only and completion does not indicate a level of professional expertise or credential. Certificates of completion and CEU Credits are only available for our premium paid courses.

Scott Sklar is a walking encyclopedia of American renewable energy.

- Amory Lovins, Co-Founder, Rocky Mountain Institute

Overall, Solar Power 101 is a great introduction to those interested in gaining knowledge or pursuing a career/business in renewable energy, specifically solar. I gained a lot of insights and enjoyed it.

- Alex Marron, Motorola

Very enjoyable course that helped me bring together a lot of information picked up over many years in different industries and brought that info up to date with the latest developments in solar.

- John Cutler, New Grid Networks


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Scott Sklar

President, The Stella Group

Scott Sklar runs a clean energy technology optimization and strategic policy firm, The Stella Group, Ltd, which he founded in 1995 and came on full time to lead in 1999. The firm facilitates clean distributed energy projects for commercial, industrial, and military applications. The firm specializes in blending technologies and financing projects, as well as assisting...[more]

Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This is a free course. We take pride in our free courses, but keep in mind that this is only a taste of what we do in a full HeatSpring course. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (Video - 01:25 minutes) preview
Module 1 - Introduction to Solar and Renewable Energy and Regulatory Considerations

Topics for this week include: basic information on solar technology, resources, and studies on renewable energy and solar energy, an overview of energy markets, federal, state, and local government energy policies and programs.

  • Lecture 1 - Renewable Energy Introduction and Context (Video - 54:37 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 1 (Download .pdf)
  • Lecture 2 - "State-Federal-Local Jurisdictional Issues in the Energy and Environmental Arenas" (Video - 40:06 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 2 (Download .pdf)
  • Interstate Renewable Enery Council (IREC) (Resource)
  • Recent Renewable Energy Publications from Lawrences Berkeley Laboratory's Electricity Markets & Policy Group (Resource)
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) (Resource)
  • Energy Research - National Conference of State Legislatures (Resource)
  • New Energy Outlook - Bloomberg New Energy Finance (Resource)
  • "Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency" - Environmental and Energy Study Institute (Resource)
Module 2 - Introduction to Solar Engineering

Topics for this week include: An introduction to solar technology, photovoltaics, hybrid systems, net metering, and energy storage.

  • Lecture 1 - Photovoltaic Systems Overview (Video - 41:40 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 1 (Download .pdf)
  • Lecture 2 - Grid Intertied and On-Site Generation: The Big and Small Picture (Video - 49:29 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 2 (Download .pdf)
  • Florida Solar Energy Center (Resource)
  • North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (Resource)
  • North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) (Resource)
  • Solar Pathfinder (Resource)
  • Solmetric (Resource)
  • NREL's PVWatts Calculator (Resource)
  • Homer Energy (Resource)
  • HelioScope (Resource)
  • Polysun (Resource)
  • Amerian Solar Energy Society (ASES) (Resource)
  • Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) (Resource)
  • "Small Generator Interconnection Agreements and Procedures" - Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) (Resource)
  • "Interconnection of Distributed Generation to Utility Systems" - Regulatory Assistance Project (Resource)
  • Detailed Summary Maps - DSIRE (Resource)
  • Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST) - National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Resource)
  • System Advisor Model - National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Resource)
  • Energy Access Review - EED Advisory Consultants (Resource)
Module 3 - Photovoltaic System Issues and Introduction to Solar Finance

Topics for this week include: Power purchase agreements (PPAs), leasing, lending, the state of the art, environmental drivers, the Clean Air Act, climate change, and funds.

  • Lecture 1 - Photovoltaic System Issues (Video - 41:13 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 1 (Download .pdf)
  • Lecture 2 - PV Financing (Video - 36:25 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 2 (Download .pdf)
  • PV*SOL - The Solar Design Company (Resource)
  • "State Implementation Plans" - EPA (Resource)
  • Power Purchase Agreements - U.S. Department of Energy (Resource)
Module 4 - Storage, Interconnection, and Microgrids

Topics for this week include: Codes and standards (UL, NABCEP, SRCC), local permitting studies, house value studies, remote diagnostics, quick deploy systems, modular and inter-operable systems, aesthetics, and blending with high-value energy efficiency and other renewables.

  • Lecture 1 - Integration Issues: Microgrids and Community Grids (Video - 01:01:51 hours)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 1 (Download .pdf)
  • Lecture 2 - Sklar's Top 10 PV Points (Video - 27:46 minutes)
  • Presentation slides for Lecture 2 (Download .pdf)
  • "Designing Resilient Electrical Distribution Grids—R&D Challenges" - Los Alamos National Laboratory (Resource)
  • Federal Smart Grid Task Force (Resource)
  • Resilient Electric Infrastructures - Sandia National Laboratories (Resource)
  • "Importance of a Distribution Management System (DMS) in Grid Modernization" - Microgrid Knowledge (Oct. 2015) (Resource)
  • Renewable Energy Data Books (NREL) (Resource)
  • "Levelized Cost of Storage Analysis" - Lazard (Resource)
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Interactive Map of Cooperative Solar (Resource)
Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)

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