Renewable Energy Teaching Materials

As part of the CREATE Solar PV Institute faculty professional development workshops, Renewable Energy lesson plans and instructional materials are developed to provide educators, who are teaching renewable energy courses, access to a rich library of instructional materials for their classes.

Our Renewable Energy lessons are designed for community college, technical college, and high school use. Teachers are welcome to modify them for their specific circumstances.

Teaching materials include instructor guides, student handouts, answer keys, and additional resources for each of the lessons explored in the Solar Institutes. Documentation is also provided for each lesson referencing the US DOE Energy Literacy Standards (ELS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Most documents are provided in both Adobe PDF format to preserve original formatting, and in Microsoft Word format to allow easy editing and customization by teachers for their specific application.

Select a category to view lesson plans in a specific topic, or scroll down to browse all Renewable Energy lesson plans.

Energy Fundamentals

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - What's In An Energy Bill? Part 1

In What’s In An Energy Bill? (Part 1), students will analyze two imaginary, but typical, energy bills. One is a bill from the winter season and one is from the summer season. Students will become acquainted with and use features present on energy bills.  Students will also consider some of their weekly and seasonally energy use patterns.

Student Lesson & Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Sample Energy Bills: January 2020 (Adobe PDF)

Sample Energy Bills: July 2020 (Adobe PDF)

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - What's In An Energy Bill? Part 2

What’s In An Energy Bill? (Part 2) builds upon the lesson in Part 1. Students visit the EPA’s Power Profiler website to review the resources and air emissions consequences of their energy bill. Students also learn the resources and emissions consequences of their energy savings efforts.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Energy Conversions and Beyond

Energy Conversions & Beyond introduces students to the BTU and Joule, and to useful energy conversions that can be done with them. Later, students use a typical energy bill to calculate the costs, resources, and air emissions for which they are responsible.  In the end, students understand the real costs of using energy — and the real benefits of saving it.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Exploring A Job in the Energy Industry - CREATE

Exploring A Job In The Energy Industry encourages students to explore a potential, future energy job. Using Career Maps, students research compensation, qualifications, job demands, and advancement opportunities for the job they selected. 

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - By the Numbers - SolarWise

By The Numbers introduces students to basic facts and dynamics of the American energy economy. Students learn how each primary source of energy is provided by nature, how each is employed in the economy, and whether each source is nonrenewable or renewable.

Student Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Slide Presentation Part 1: The Energy Economy (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Slide Presentation Part 2: Nonrenewable Resources (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Slide Presentation Part 3: Renewable Resources (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Slide Presentation Parts 1-3: Complete (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Energy Management & Efficiency

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - What's the Cheapest Watt? - SolarWise

Students survey an electrical appliance at home in What’s The Cheapest Watt?  Pooling class data, they then consider energy management decisions.  In the end, they determine the cheapest Watt—the one that costs the least, preserves the most natural resources, and saves the most environmental pollution — is the Watt they never use.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - It Pays to Save in Your Home - SolarWise

In this lesson, students learn that It Pays to Save in Your Home.  Students consider many common, potential energy saving situations in a home, research questions surrounding them, and report on their findings. Students learn which energy saving measures should always be applied first.  They also learn that saving energy always comes before applying renewable energy technologies.

Student Lesson (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Lesson Summary Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Summary Notes Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Poster Production Guidelines & Requirements (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Building a Passive Solar Home - SolarWise

In Building A Passive Solar Home, students design and build a home to take advantage of its natural surroundings and manage its environmental disadvantages. They learn about the concept of a home energy load profile.  Students learn how seasonal changes, architecture, and landscaping can be used in the design of a home with a low energy load profile.

Student Lesson (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Paper Design Templates (Adobe PDF)

Solar PV

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Measuring Sunlight: The Pyranometer - CREATE

Measuring Sunlight: The Pyranometer is a hands-on, interactive lesson.  It introduces students to the pyranometer — a solar industry “tool of the trade” — and how it’s used.  Students also learn about, and then assess, some of the variables that have an effect on the sunlight received by a solar panel.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar Site Analysis: The Solar Pathfinder - CREATE

Solar Site Analysis: The Solar Pathfinder teaches students how to use a Solar Pathfinder — a solar industry “tool of the trade” — to measure and evaluate the percentage of sunlight available for a specific site in a relevant setting.

Student Lesson & Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Instructor’s Guide & Answer Key 🔒

Student Sunpath Diagram Blanks (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Sunpath Diagram Answer Keys (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Your Latitude Sunpath Diagrams (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Introduction To The Solar Pathfinder (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PPT)

Solar Pathfinder Site Examples (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft PPT)

ELS Standards (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

NGSS Standards (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar Location Analysis: The PVWatts Calculator - CREATE

Solar Location Analysis: The PVWatts Calculator is an excellent introduction to NREL’s PVWatts calculator – a standard, online “tool of the trade” in the solar industry.  Students estimate the electricity production of a grid-connected solar PV system for several places across the globe.

Student Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Activity Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Student Spreadsheet (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Excel)

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar PV Watts From the Sun - CREATE

With Solar PV: Watts From The Sun, students measure basic solar module performance characteristics (Amps, Volts, Watts) to determine how much electricity a classroom solar panel produces. Then, they use solar PV module production data to size a PV array to different electrical load requirements.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar PV Silicon - CREATE

Solar PV Silicon teaches students about the properties of silicon and why it is unusually well suited for use in producing solar photovoltaic power. 

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar PV: Balance of System & System Design - CREATE

Solar PV: Balance Of System & System Design teaches students how solar PV systems can be engineered to meet different situations and goals. Learn what equipment is needed to make various systems work and what each piece of Balance of System equipment does.

Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Solar PV: Battery & Charge Controller - CREATE

In Solar PV: Battery & Charge Control, students predict, measure, and explain electric potential (volts) and current (amps) in a variety of dynamic settings. They will gain an understanding of the function of the charge controller in governing current flow in a renewable energy battery storage system.

Student Lesson & Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

List of Materials & Equipment (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Excel)


Renewable Energy Lesson Plan - Dairy Waste to Power - SolarWise

Dairy Waste To Power is a strongly visual, multimedia lesson. Students learn how dairy waste can be turned into a valuable renewable resource. Students find that what is often a waste disposal problem can produce electricity and a variety of other valuable, environmentally friendly resources. 

Student Response Guide (Adobe PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Video Presentation Part 1 – MP4

Video Presentation Part 2 – MP4

Video Presentation Part 3 – MP4

Video Presentation Part 4 – MP4

Video Presentation Part 5 – MP4

CREATE Teaching Materials are made freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike license (CC BY-NC-SA).  Please view the Creative Commons License if you intend to copy and redistribute this material in any medium or format, or adapt, remix, transform, or build upon this material. For a summary of the Creative Commons License, please view our full terms and disclaimers.

CREATE expresses its gratitude to the Wisconsin Public Service SolarWise for Schools Program for sharing these Renewable Energy lesson plans with us.

To access additional Renewable Energy Education Resources, visit our Resources page.