Spreading solar at the fair

By Virginia Rutter on September 10, 2018
Solar Flower on display at the Minnesota State Fair.
Solar Flower on display at the Minnesota State Fair.

More than 2,000,000 fairgoers attended this year’s state fair, a new record. They had plenty of opportunity to learn about solar, thanks to our partners at the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES). I attended several days myself to talk with people about solar at the Eco Experience booth.

The Eco Experience has been around for 12 years, and it is organized by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). It’s one of their major outreach outlets for educating Minnesotans, and others, who attend the fair on ways we can impact our environment. More than 270,000 people stopped by this year. There were lots of amazing displays covering topics like how to recycle and compost; how to repair all kinds of things; bike and pedestrian safety for kids. There was even a water bar that serves free flights of water from three Minnesota communities. To encourage fairgoers to visit all the activities, the MPCA offered Climate Connect Bingo with a prize for all completed bingo cards.

I spent my two days at the solar section, which is coordinated by MRES. They have created an impressive display, highlighting solar in many different forms. There’s a tiny model home that shows solar thermal, solar PV, and solar-powered skylights. There’s a boat powered by a solar panel, highlighting the Solar Boat Regatta that MRES puts on each May with local schools. They also had a few display panels, and an impressive Solar Flower outside.

Most of the questions that I answered were about rooftop solar: what does it cost? How does it work? How can I get it on my home? If you also have these questions, check out our Solar FAQs.

There were also a lot of questions about community solar: How can I tell whether the company who sent me a flyer is a good one? How does the program work? We have some information on community solar on our website as well, and you can also check out CERTs’ guide.

As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions about solar in general or our programming in Minnesota. We are happy to be your go-to educational resource!