It was a typical Minnesota Morning in December. The sun was bright, the snow was crisp, and there was a definite bite in the air. The temperature at 10 am was holding steady at 10 below zero.
As I drove into Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near Spicer, I found myself looking for the newly erected Solar Collector that brought me there that cold December Morning. I looked back at the sun just to the southeast to make sure that I had my bearings correct, then back at the building but still no sign of the panel. As I walked closer to the main building I could finally see it. The Project Manager, John Duevel, did a particularly good job of building the solar collector into the building, making it look as if it was part of the original architecture. John gave me a quick tour of the project and I found myself amazed at the simplicity of the technology.
It gets better.
I soon found myself standing outside next to John who had just grabbed a small wooden box from his car. The box was 18 inches by 18 inches and 10 inches deep. The inside of the box had an aluminum panel that was painted black with a vinyl cover across the top. He set the box on the sidewalk facing the sun, dropped a small food service thermometer into a drilled hole on the top of the box. The thermometer read -10. Imagine my surprise when after five minutes the temp had climbed to 95 degrees. Five minutes after that, the temp read 110. After another ten minutes, the thermometer topped out at 185 degrees. What is even more amazing is that everything John needed to create that Solar Panel came from scrap material he found in his workshop. My take-away from that morning was one of hope and excitement.
This powerful experience begs the question…Why are we not harnessing the sun? How can we make small adjustments to our homes, our businesses, our public buildings that capture this free source of energy? We live in a time when necessity needs to continue to be the mother of invention. We live in a part of the county where the people are hardworking, inventive, and entrepreneurial. Opportunity is waiting – Who will be the person to seize this great opportunity? That person could be you!