Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 33 seconds

Review: Renewable Nation App

renewable nation 001According to Scott Stapf, the program director for Renewable Nation, there are 125,000 schools that are solar ready but only about 8% have actually switched to solar power. “How do you motivate people to change their behavior?” Stapf asks. He notes that there is a high level of interest in solar energy as a solution to high electric costs and increasing greenhouse effects, but many schools are scared to take that jump. That’s why Stapf felt that it was crucial to create Solar Schools 2025 to promote more solar adoption in schools across the country.

In Use:
Solar Schools 2025 is part of the Renewable Nation App. The app consists of videos, webinars, and how-to guides for schools interested in going solar. It was important to Stapf to “cut through the chaos and confusion” and curate videos in user-friendly formats. While anyone can crowd source a bunch of videos and call it a day, Solar Schools 2025 goes beyond the helpful how-to-guides. They are currently searching for 50 schools who are interested in going solar and plan to match them with schools who have already taken that plunge. The Renewable Nation App refers to it as a buddy system. Schools looking to go solar will be paired up with a buddy school as well as given a package of step-by-step materials and weekly webinars to help them through the process.  

Technology Used:
Interested in learning how your school can be part of Solar Schools 2025? The Renewable Nation app is available for iPhones and Androids and is free to download. Its consists of a section for homeowners and schools. Here, interested parties can download videos and webinars to help them start the process of going solar. The app includes resources and a link to solar contractors in a school’s area.  While most businesses rely on their websites, Stapf wanted to put the main focus on the app itself. According to the Pew Research Center, 20% of Americans are “smartphone-only” internet users meaning that they do not have access to broadband services at home. This percentage is up from just 12% in 2016 and continues to grow.

Ease of Use:
The app is easy to maneuver. When looking through the app it’s easy to find the information that one needs. It’s separated into 5 sections; Finding solar contractors; Solar Schools 2025; Renewable Nation’s TV Channel which is currently in beta testing; DIY Tips, and Additional Information section that includes Renewable Nation’s mission statement. The information on the app is self-explanatory and easy to access. The only thing that is missing is a “Contact Us” button if a user runs into any problems while using the app.

Going solar has a lot of preconceived connotations both positive and negative. The Renewable Nation App wants to set the public straight when it comes to who can afford going solar, why going solar, and what’s needed once the decision has been made to actually go solar. By posting videos, webinars, a creating a TV channel in the future, Renewable Nation wants to set the record straight. Because so many schools are solar ready but very few have actually taken the plunge, The Renewable Nation App created Solar Schools 2025, pairing 50 schools who are interested in going solar to 50 schools that already have, in hopes that they will guide them through the process. According to Scott Stapf, the program director of The Renewable Nation App, the reception has been wonderful as the app helps schools pinpoint resources such as finances and solar contractors.  

  • The Renewable Nation App separates facts versus myths of the solar energy industry ensuring that a school makes an educated decision
  • There are valuable resources available from financial institutions willing to fund a solar ndeavor, federal and state grants, and solar contractors.
  • The buddy system enables schools that are beginning to switch to solar to buddy up with a school that has. This leads to real live experiences, tips, and tricks that will make the transition easier.

  • Disadvantages:
  • The user experience on the app is underwhelming
  • There is no “contact us” button if a user is having issues with the app. They would have to navigate out of the app to Renewable Nation’s Facebook page to contact them

  • My Opinion
    In our interview Stapf and I talked about why more homeowners and schools haven’t gone solar yet. Stapf believes it has to do with the miss information regarding the process. According to him, people have misconstrued facts about how much solar energy costs; the benefits; and the financial options that are available. He hopes that his Renewable Nation app can help convince both homeowners and schools to go solar- and he has provided tools and tips to help them in that process. I think this is a great endeavor because I even admitted that I too haven’t really given solar energy a thought in my own life because of how expensive I believe it to be. After spending some time on the app, I may reconsider.

    Because Renewable Nation relies mainly on their app, it’s very important that the app is fully functional and captures the users’ attention. While the app has a lot of great information, the app is in need of a makeover. It feels cluttered and the user-face is lacking aesthetically. While the presentation of the app may need to be spruced up, the information available is of high quality for those looking to go solar.  

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    Danielle Loughnane

    Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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