Green Tech Chatter: Clean Energy Tourism

If you’ve ever wondered exactly how a solar facility works, or exactly how big wind turbines are, now you can see first hand. Many renewable energy providers offer guided tours of their facilities to the public. Similar to ecotourism, which promotes appreciation and protection for fragile ecosystems through giving people a personal experience, tours of renewable energy plants serve as an educative tool regarding the functions, creation and benefits of renewable energy. Tours are also used as a means of convincing the sometimes reticent public, as well as public officials, of renewable energy’s place in modern times.

To boost publicity and public knowledge about the benefits of renewable energy, The American Solar Energy Society‘s (ASES) created the National Solar Tour, taking place in October. This program allows people to find out about solar-providing and solar-using facilities–including power plants, green buildings and even homes–in their region and tour them. Below, check out our list of other clean energy tours from around the country.

image via National Solar Tour

  • As part of the National Solar Tour, the Hudson Valley Clean Energy facility in New York, a solar and geothermal energy provider, is offering tours of its facility in October.
  • The 2011 Green Energy Ohio Tour offers the public a “self-guided” tour of green energy sites, both producers and users, in their region with the aim of spreading knowledge and awareness about renewable energy. Their setup is similar to the ASES’s.
  • Arizona clean power provider APS offers guided visits and tours of several of its solar facilities, including a solar research center.
  • The Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, North Carolina, creates its own energy from methane gas from the capped landfill beneath. Besides offering education about green energy and land reclaiming, it also offers art programs in pottery, metalwork, and glassblowing.
  • Tourism site CalAdventures offers information on tours of a working wind farm in Palm Springs, California. Don’t forget to print the coupon.
  • The San Jose Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase is a massive, open-to-the-public convention exhibiting the latest in solar, wind and other clean technologies. In addition to guided tours, people can partake in workshops and Q&A sessions.
  • New Jersey’s Atlantic County offers open house tours of the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm every weekend.
  • If you can’t get out for a physical tour, many companies and organizations offer virtual tours, like FWEE‘s of a hydroelectric plant and the Arizona Solar Center‘s of solar facilities.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.