The U.S. Department of Energy has signed a landmark agreement with a coalition of historically black colleges, with the aim of developing clean energy initiatives, greater energy efficiency and awareness, and a clean energy economy—specifically jobs and workforce training.
The HBCU Clean Energy Coalition comprises 14 schools, each of which has a visible presence in its community, rigorous STEM programs, and sustainability practices on or near its campus:
- Benedict College
- Claflin University
- Coppin State University
- Florida Memorial University
- Johnson C. Smith University
- Morgan State University
- Norfolk State University
- North Carolina A & T State University
- Prairie View University
- Southern University New Orleans
- Southern University Shreveport Louisiana
- Tennessee State University
- Texas Southern University
- University of the Virgin Islands
Clean Energy Economy
The goals of the coalition include accelerating the growth of solar and other renewable energy jobs; developing energy efficiency workforce training programs; and developing an energy education outreach campaign targeting low income communities.
This entire initiative is spearheaded by the HBCU Coalition through the HBCU-Community Development Action Coalition, which promotes and supports HBCUs and other minority serving institutions.
Michael Keeve, acting associate dean in the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, says the Department of Energy will provide technical assistance and other support to the coalition’s efforts.
I asked him about Norfolk State’s specific role. In an e-mail, he spoke of NSU’s development of microwave plasma devices to control waste. The school has “generated synthesis gas (syngas) that will produce energy from the waste,” Keeve said, noting that NSU’s work in industry and collaborations with other institutions put them on a short list to be invited to participate.
“NSU plans to develop coordinated solar and energy efficiency workforce training programs with our two cleanroom facilities through collaboration with [other] HBCUs, conduct economic analysis that presents costs/benefits of solar and energy efficiency solutions, and provide access to information and existing tools and resources necessary to further the activities under this MOU,” Keeve said. “The two main projects are the Waste and Green Energy (Syngas) Conversion Project and the development of training and education program for solar energy system.”
The open-ended agreement with the D.O.E. provides these schools with an unprecedented opportunity, especially as the nation looks to expand and invest in sustainable energy resources.
“This is a great opportunity that shows what can be achieved when we work together as one to address current issues that build programs for the future and strengthen communities,” Keeve said. “Universities should impact their local communities. In addition, our waste management research could greatly contribute to a worldwide problem dealing with waste issues.”