On July 25, Shoreline Community College hosted Northwest Solar Fest for it’s eleventh year. The NW SolarFest is the premier renewable energy event in the state. It is a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers.
SolarFest’s goal as a festival is to teach the community of Shoreline how to build a better future through sustainability, renewable energy and common sense solutions. NW SolarFest has been a part of the Shoreline community since 2004.
Since its inception, two public schools have decided to sport photovoltaic systems as a direct result of the festival’s efforts. Photovoltaic is a method of converting solar energy into direct current electricity using semiconducting materials such as copper and glass.
Larry Owens and Maryn Wynne are the co-founders of NW SolarFest.
“We were trying to get a full photovoltaic system in a school, Meridian Park School, that Larry lived catty-corner from. If you look at the rooftops of schools they’re flat and have a lot of space. So we found a way to get the school a photovoltaic system,” explained Wynne.
Owens and Wynne found a program through Seattle City and Light where they pay for the materials and the installations of solar demonstration projects. They then got permission from the school and with the help from students, parents, the local community and local politicians they built the photovoltaic system on the roof of Meridian elementary school.
Through the solar demonstration at Meridian elementary, Owens and Wynne started an organization called Shoreline Solar Project, “With Shoreline Solar Project our mission was the practical application of renewable energy and then we added a lot of things about sustainability because when you talk about just solar you have to talk about it in the context of all the other things that come with it,” said Wynne.
The idea for NW SolarFest came when Wynne and Owens realized no one could see on the top of Meridian elementary school, “nobody can see anything on top of the roof, nobody knows it’s here so we thought well how are we going to tell people about this?” Wynne said, and that’s when they though of NW SolarFest.
At the first fair in 2004 they, had about 22 exhibitors and a couple hundred people came through. “Everybody enjoyed it they really had a good time. Vendors had a chance to really talk to people in depth and people got to learn a lot of things,” said Wynne.
Now in 2015, 11 years later they have over 300 visitors come through in one day to see the 68 exhibitors. They have several solar powered cars, windows, ovens, and coolers on display. A Kid Fun Zone where children can pet and feed alpacas, make their own birdhouses out of popsicle sticks to bring home as well as an exhibit by the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association where visitors can watch the bees in action.
To get more information about the Shoreline Solar Project or just about SolarFest, visit their website