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Online Associates Degree in Renewable Energy: Program Overview

Due in large part to the hands-on nature of the field, online renewable energy associate degree programs are not available. It is possible, however, to pursue an online certificate or a campus-based associate degree dealing with renewable energy.

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Essential Information

Online certificate programs in renewable energy are available in a hybrid format that requires some on-campus coursework or in-person field experience. Associate's degree programs in renewable energy are available in the more traditional on-campus format, due to the hands-on nature of these programs. These programs help prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers in the renewable energy field. The educational and professional licensing or certification requirements for these careers vary by employer, job title, and state or local jurisdiction.


Overview of an Online Certificate in Renewable Energy

Online renewable energy certificate programs, sometimes referred to as green energy programs, are rare and are often offered as hybrid programs requiring some on-campus attendance or in-person field work. Students gain the knowledge needed for a career in renewable energy technology and energy management. Students closely examine energy conservation in both commercial and residential energy consuming facilities. Topics covered include energy conservation, the energy grid system, solar installation setup, solar internal components and energy conversion.

Program Information and Requirements

Due to the hands-on nature of some of the installation and maintenance training, an online renewable energy certificate usually includes campus-based instruction. Campus-based instruction is often flexible, offered during weekends or as part of summer sessions. Renewable energy certificate programs are often beneficial for professionals already employed in the energy field, including project managers, sub-contractors and design professionals.

Students have access to online courses at any time. Online students may be required to have Microsoft Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint. Online learning also requires students possess a relatively updated computer and updated Web browser.

Sample Certificate-level Renewable Energy Courses

Certificate-level renewable energy courses provide students with an overview of the renewable energy field and how wind power systems, photovoltaic systems and other technologies aid in energy efficiency.

Introduction to Renewable Energy Course

An introductory renewable energy course provides an overview of the various forms of renewable energy, including photovoltaic systems, wind power systems, solar heating and biomass. The course also explores past and current energy usage throughout the world.

Wind Systems Course

This course explores the design and installation of wind systems, as well as the science behind how wind systems produce energy. Topics covered include components installation, heat exchanges, blade dynamics, geothermal power and turbine generators.

Continuing Education Information

Although not offered in an online format, there are a number of renewable energy associate degree programs available. Graduates may also move on to a bachelor's degree in areas such as HVAC design technology, building automation technology and sustainable design.


Overview of a Campus-Based Associate Degree in Renewable Energy

An associate's degree program in renewable energy examines the difference between renewable energy sources, including solar thermal energy and wind energy, and traditional fossil fuel energy sources such as natural gas and oil. Graduates will be prepared to install and work with solar thermal, wind turbine, and photovoltaic systems. They will be well-versed in governmental policy surrounding renewable energy technologies, electrical systems related to renewable energy systems, methane energy production systems and sustainable concepts such as environmental impacts and conservation.

Program Information and Requirements

Often very hands-on in nature, renewable energy associate degree programs include a combination of classroom and laboratory instruction in areas such as process controls, drawings, mechanical piping and electrical currents. Prospective students are often required to have ample algebra and physical science experience in high school. Many associate degree programs lead to North American Board Certified Energy Practitioner certification

Sample Associate-Level Renewable Energy Courses

Associate-level courses aim to provide students with knowledge of emerging renewable energy technologies and how they lead to energy efficiency.

Solar Photovoltaic Systems Course

This course explores on-grid, off-grid, roof mounted and pole mounted photovoltaic systems. Topics covered include photovoltaic system installation, monitoring systems, solar energy components, performance analysis and solar power plants.

Solar Thermal Systems Course

Often hands-on in nature, a solar thermal systems course emphasizes the installation and troubleshooting of solar thermal systems. The course covers piping skills, active solar systems, the cost of installing solar thermal systems and the inspection of solar thermal systems.

Energy Efficiency Course

This course focuses on the materials and instruments that make buildings more energy efficient. Students gain knowledge of heating and cooling conservation strategies, as well as methods of assessing energy usage.

Career Information for Graduates of Certificate and Associate Degree Renewable Energy Programs

Certificate and associate degree programs in renewable energy prepare graduates for careers working with solar thermal, solar electric and wind energy. Graduates may work for wind turbine manufacturers, renewable energy manufacturing firms and construction companies. Some potential job titles include renewable energy technician, wind turbine manufacturing specialist, resource conservation manager, solar systems installer and renewable energy system designer.

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