Online Associates Degree in Renewable Energy: Program Overview

Research online renewable energy associate degrees and certificates. Find out what you can learn in these programs and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Associate degree programs in renewable energy are only available in the more traditional on-campus format, due to the hands-on nature of these programs. However, there are online associate degree programs in renewable energy technology with a specialization in photovoltaic technology. It is also possible to pursue an online certificate in renewable energy. Online certificate programs in renewable energy are available in a hybrid format that requires some on-campus coursework, laboratory instruction or in-person field experience for installation and maintenance training. Applicants need experience in algebra and physical science.

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.

Certificate - 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 fieldwork. 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 to possess a relatively updated computer and updated web browser.

Course Topics

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

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

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.

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Campus-Based Associate Degree - Renewable Energy

An associate 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.

Course Topics

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

Solar Photovoltaic Systems

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

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

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

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.

Graduates of certificate programs in renewable energy may also move on to a bachelor's degree in areas such as HVAC design technology, building automation technology and sustainable design.

Although there are no associate degree programs in renewable energy that are completely online, there are on-campus associate degree programs and online certificate programs in renewable energy. Students in these programs will study energy efficiency, wind systems and more to train for a wide range of careers in the field.

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