Adapture Renewables Welcomes Students from the Wild Rockies Field Institute!

Where can you find cycling, solar energy, and experiential learning all in one place? For students of the Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI), the answer this summer was Montana.

In a recent initiative that combined education, adventure, and a commitment to clean energy, Adapture Renewables hosted students from WRFI’s “Cycle the Rockies: Energy and Climate Change in Montana,” a 28-day course. Along their nearly 700-mile bike route, the students visited our 4.2 MW Green Meadow solar project in Helena, Montana to learn about clean energy firsthand.

Pedals and Panels

Dr. Rachel Woods-Robinson, an instructor at WRFI and pioneer of the “Cycle the Rockies” initiative, guided the students along their route to our project.

The students were given a tour of the facility, eager to learn more about solar energy while seeing the project in action. Our on-site team spoke with the students and discussed the process of how this site was developed, the operations and maintenance of utility-scale solar, and the challenges the team encountered and how they overcame them. The WRFI group was impressed to learn all of the steps, from goal setting to commissioning, that went into bringing a clean energy project of this scale online!

To round out the visit, the Adapture Renewables team spoke with the students about the wide range of career opportunities the clean energy transition has to offer, from engineering and technology to business development and finance. The unique experience combined academic learning with real-world exploration, an invaluable experience for students interested in careers in clean energy.

“My key takeaway was a deeper understanding of the full process of bringing a solar plant online, from proposal stage to development to grid tie-in,” said Dr. Woods-Robinson. “In graduate school I focused on increasing efficiency and reducing cost of panels, and I assumed this was the limiting factor. So it was really informative to learn how complex and political it can be to connect solar to the grid and, in particular, that transmission is really nuanced and complicated!”

Clean Energy in the Rockies

The students’ 24-day cycling adventure navigated its way through diverse landscapes, including Billings, communities in Central Montana, Helena, the Rocky Mountain Front, and Glacier National Park.

They not only experienced the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies, but also gained valuable insights into the clean energy landscape. Throughout their journey, the students visited a variety of different energy and climate-related sites, each offering a unique perspective on clean energy and its challenges:

  • Wind Farm: Students had the opportunity to witness the power of wind energy in action, learning firsthand about wind turbine operations.
  • Hydropower Dam (Holter Dam) and Proposed Pumped Storage Hydropower Site (Gordon Butte): Students learned about hydropower’s role in the region.
  • Coal Mine (Signal Peak) and Proposed Copper Mine (Black Butte)
  • Regenerative Ranching Operations: A glimpse into regenerative ranching practices highlighted how agriculture and clean energy work side by side.

Looking Forward: Collaborating with the Clean Energy Leaders of Tomorrow

Adapture Renewables is committed to educating and elevating future leaders and professionals in the clean energy sector. The transition to renewable power is well underway, and the clean energy workforce is growing rapidly. The opportunities in renewable energy development will continue to draw some of the brightest minds to tackle challenges and deploy new projects.

As for future plans, Adapture Renewables remains open to collaboration with educational institutions like WRFI and others that share a passion for clean energy.
This collaboration with WRFI showcases the transformative power of experiential learning and the importance of cross-disciplinary partnerships in advancing clean energy solutions. We hope that more collaborations like this can pave the way for a brighter and cleaner future.