Alternative energy education prepares people for work in this field as designers and installers of systems, or educators for members of the public who want to learn about alternative energy. It also includes direct public outreach to show people how to integrate energy efficiency into their lives to reduce the use of resources. Coursework is available at educational levels ranging from kindergarten to postdoctorate research for people with varying interests in alternative energy. Many governments directly sponsor some programs to promote education of scientists and the public with the goal of reducing reliance on unclean energy sources.
One form of alternative energy education is focused on the people who develop, install, and maintain systems. Scientists who want to work on alternative energy projects may attend college and university to learn about existing technology and participate in the invention of new technical solutions to energy problems. They can pursue internships, fellowships, and other educational opportunities in the field with labs, private companies, and academic institutions.
Engineers and people who will design and implement plans for large-scale alternative energy production can receive hands-on technical training, with a focus on putting systems into operation. Alternative energy education can also be more technically geared to people like contractors who will be installing and maintaining systems. People who want to install equipment like solar panels and windmills, for example, may attend courses to learn how to conduct the work safely and with environmental friendliness in mind.
Educators can participate in alternative energy education to learn more about how to communicate clearly with students and the public. Teachers on the primary school level may want to integrate it into science teaching units, while instructors at higher levels of education can pursue more advanced educational credentials. This requires an understanding of the science behind alternative energy and may integrate subjects like economics and politics, as these can play a role in the design, implementation, and function of alternative energy systems.
This term can also be used to refer to public outreach. Alternative energy education programs in this sense provide information to members of the public about how to save money and take advantage of alternative energy resources in their area. This can include options to buy electricity from renewable sources, install generation systems at home, or reduce resource usage with modifications around the home to limit energy dependence. Outreach can involve scientists, government officials, and contractors, depending on the agency offering the service.