Nine-year-old Hayden and six-year-old Rhys Anderson are growing up in an off-grid house in New Hampshire complete with 49 solar panels on the roof and 24 batteries that store the solar generated during the day and kick in at night to power the house. Hayden and Rhys’ dad, SVP and co-founder of Borrego Solar, Chris Anderson, built an off-grid house because as an executive of a solar company, he wanted to “walk the talk.” Many of Borrego Solar’s executives and employees are in step with Anderson and have solar on their homes. For those that don’t live in solar-powered homes, the topic of energy and the environment is one that’s much more familiar to kids now compared to when we were growing up.
At just three years old, our Director of Technology Bradley Hibberd’s daughter Riley emphatically points out solar panels from his car seat, saying “look Daddy, solar panels.” To think that a toddler can identify a solar panel is very telling of our kids’ awareness of not just solar, but the concept of energy and electricity. On the way to school, Bradley drives Riley and his older sister Sidney pass a Borrego Solar project, which is easily identified by a big sign with our logo on it. The kids point it out and Bradly tells them the story of how it almost didn’t get built because a neighbor petitioned the planning board to reject it because they felt it was an eyesore. Bradley tells his kids that by planting trees around the installation, we were able to make the neighbor happy and allowed to build the project.
Here are Sidney’s abstract drawings of the disgruntled neighbor and driving in the care with dad.
Even for children that don’t grow up in homes of parents that work in the solar industry, they likely go to a school powered by solar or like Bradley’s kids, pass homes, business or highly visible solar arrays in their communities. There are more than 4,000 (conservative estimate) solar energy systems feeding clean energy to public and private K-12 schools across the country. What used to be an alternative energy is now mainstream.
We were curious to see how much our kids really understood about solar, since many of us at Borrego Solar are so passionate about it and believe it’s going to make the world a cleaner place for them to grow up in. So, we asked some of the staff’s kids “why is solar energy important?” We also wanted to know if they understood what their parents did at work all day, which returned some hilarious answers.
It seems that the youngest kids all understood that solar gives us electricity from the sun and when the kids reached about eight, their understanding of solar evolved into a tool or energy resource that can help reduce pollution and create a cleaner environment. See 10-year-old Meghan Ryder’s and 8-year-old Lacey Brook’s responses.
Here are beautiful drawings from our Principal Structural Engineer, David Dutil’s, 4-year-old daughter Jocelyn and 6-year-old son Owen telling us that solar gives us electricity.
We think 4th grader Aiden Feldman, the son of Director of Project Finance Adam Feldman, sums it up well: “Fossil fuels such as coal or oil are not renewable. In other words, at some point we’ll run out. The sun will always shine for solar energy and the wind will always blow for wind power.”
If our kids could decide how they would want to power their communities, what would they choose? From the answers we got from Borrego Solar’s kids, it seems like they’d choose solar. After all, according to nine-year-old Dean Brooks, “Solar Panels Win!”
We suggest you also ask your kids what they know about solar, or why they think solar energy is important? You’ll be surprised who the experts are. Share their drawings or video of them answering these questions with us on our Facebook page to win an Amazon gift card. Just make sure to tag Borrego Solar so they’ll be entered to win.