Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant and the most sustainable form of energy that is available from the sun. While almost all other energy resources are under strain, people are turning towards solar energy to avail most of the benefits that solar energy provides.
The following are 10 courses that students or people wishing to learn more about solar energy can pursue. From students, professionals to beginners, there is an option for everyone. However, for some of these courses, basic knowledge of mathematics might be required.
Solar Energy Basics
This course on solar energy will help students get familiar with the basics of solar power and the operations of a solar energy system. The course is being offered by the State University of New York and can be completed in approximately 15 hours. To be able to complete this course successfully, basic knowledge of maths and percentage calculations is highly recommended. Students will understand how solar cells and photovoltaics convert solar power to electricity and how solar cells fit into the entire system. Students will learn how to calculate the solar energy needs of a particular building and learn how to reduce the demand while also meeting it. Students will also be introduced to the regulatory guidelines around solar power panels and the different pricing models currently followed in the market. The course is ideal for anyone preparing to enter the renewable energy field and even someone who wants to understand the basics of solar power and its operations.
In this course, students will learn how to design an entire solar system on their own. The course is being offered by the Delft University of Technology and can be completed in approximately 8 weeks by dedicating 6-8 hours each week. In this course, students will learn how solar power gets converted into electricity, heat and solar fuels and the physical working principles that are required for this conversion. Students will learn about the current solar cell technologies, analyze the performance of solar cells and also evaluate what might be some challenges the technology can face in the future. This course will equip students so that they can design a complete photovoltaic system on paper for different applications.
Solar Energy System Design
This course is a continuation of the Solar Energy Basics course mentioned above. It is an intermediate level course and some knowledge of maths and percentage calculations is highly recommended. The course is being offered by the State University of New York and can be completed in approximately 17 hours. In this course, students will delve deeper into their study about the mechanism behind solar energy conversion. They will study what happens to sunlight until it reaches the surface of the earth and the changes that it goes through. In this course, students will cover topics like array siting, irradiance variability, temperature effects, shading losses and circuit design. All of this learning will then be applied to the real-world setting where students will cover other topics like site surveying, permitting, recording and communicating along with the recommended system design.
Introduction to Solar Cells
This online course is ideal for students looking to pursue a career in solar energy or someone with an interest in knowing more about solar energy and the mechanisms. The course is being offered by the Technical University of Denmark and can be completed in approximately 23 hours. In this course, students will begin with an overview of how solar cells have been developed and how to calculate the energy efficiency and output of solar cells. Students will learn how much energy can a solar cell generate and how one can measure it. At the same time, students will also explore the mechanism and structure of a solar cell and the operating of an entire solar energy system while trying to answer why solar energy is an important source of renewable energy.
Solar Energy Codes, Permitting and Zoning
This course is a part of the specialization named Solar Energy for Engineers, Architects and Code Inspectors and Code Inspectors. The course is being offered by the University of Buffalo and the State University of New York and can be completed in approximately 13 hours. In this intermediate course, students will learn about the key design elements and points of inspection for photovoltaic systems, national codes and zoning rules in terms of photovoltaic systems, planning the necessary documents required for the installation of a system and how the entire permit process can be streamlined. This course as the name suggests is ideal for those in charge of installing solar energy systems in neighbourhoods or buildings.
Organic Solar Cells- Theory and Practice
In this online course, students will be introduced to organic solar cells made from polymer and how they can be used to harvest solar energy. The course is being offered by the Technical University of Denmark and can be completed in approximately 23 hours. This course will help students get specialized knowledge about organic solar cells. Students will learn about the different solar cell technologies, the different generations of solar cells, life cycle analysis, the structure of solar cells and their functions. Students will also learn about the materials used in these cells and how these organic solar cells eventually degrade.
Silicon Thin Film Solar Cells
This online course is the third course in a series presented by Ecole Polytechnique and focuses on solar cells based on silicon thin films. This is an advanced level course that can be completed in approximately 5 hours. In this course, students will begin by learning in general about solar cells. They will then learn about the mechanisms, materials and operations of the solar cell and learn in-depth about silicon thin-film solar cells.
Physics of Silicon Solar Cells
This course will help students understand the properties of solar cells based on crystalline semiconductors. The course is being offered by Ecole Polytechnique and can be completed by students in approximately 13 hours. In this course, students will be introduced to semiconductor physics, the transport phenomenon in semiconductors, semiconductor surfaces, solar spectrum, etc. Students will learn about the operation of solar cells, limitations of conversion efficiency and silicon heterojunctions. Students will focus on silicon technology that is widely used and also learn about the applications of III-V semiconductors. The course is ideal for students looking at pursuing a career in the field of renewable energy.
Solar Energy: Photovoltaic (PV) Technologies
This online will give students an in-depth understanding of PV technologies and learn the mechanism, operation and processing methods of solar cells. The course is being offered by Delft University and can be completed in approximately 11 weeks with 10-11 hours per week. In this course, students will gain learn about the crystalline silicon solar cell landscape in detail, polycrystalline-based cells and monocrystalline-based solar cells. Students will learn about the application of thin-film solar cells and space applications for III-V semiconductor-based solar cells. Some topics that will be covered in the course include solar cell characterization, thin-film processing, chalcogenides and III-V technologies and organic photovoltaics.
Solar Resource Assessment in Desert Climates
In this course, students will learn how to apply the entire concept and mechanism of solar energy systems to desert climates. The course is being offered by Hamad Bin Khalifa University and can be completed in approximately 8 weeks. In the course, students will learn about the challenges that photovoltaic systems face in deserts even though they seem like the ideal environment. In this course, students will learn how to work around these challenges by identifying the different components of solar radiation and the solar spectrum. Students will learn how to analyze site-specific data to study the effect of atmospheric aerosols on surface irradiation, calculating the cost of energy from PV in hot desert environments, estimate the economic impact and also how to determine which location is the most efficient, effective and lucrative for PV application.
The language of instruction for all the courses is English and subtitles in different languages may be available for some of them. All of the courses can be audited for free but, to earn a professional certificate, a small fee may be required. For some of these courses, financial aid might also be applicable.