Four Iowans soon will set out on a seven-day bicycle tour through the European country of Slovenia.
Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City is the outreach director for the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. He is one of the cyclists who’ll be on the ride. “To essentially share the Iowa renewable energy story with some university students, local government officials, national officials,” Bolkcom says, “and try and learn more about the progress being made in Slovenia to promote renewable energy in that country.”
The Iowan who organized the tour and will be biking it, too, has been teaching at the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia for the past two years. He’s arranged for the group to visit three manufacturing plants involved in the solar energy industry, plus they’ll visit a training school for solar technicians and they’ll tour buildings which have solar panels mounted on the roof. Bolkcom, who is a state senator, will be blogging while he’s on the tour.
“We want to learn, in the case of solar applications, how they are going in Slovenia,” Bolkcom says. “It’s an area in Iowa that we have some catching up to do.”
Bolkcom and the three other Iowans will also visit with officials in the Slovenia Government Office for Climate Change. Slovenia is in central Europe, where the Alps meet the Mediterranean. “Slovenia is about 2 million people,” Bolkcom says. “It’s a relatively small country but it’s been making great progress in renewable energy and I think we’re going to learn a lot about their experience and bring some of that back to Iowa.”
Forums are planned at colleges as well to give the Iowans a chance to brief the Slovenians about Iowa’s renewable energy industry, especially the wind power sector. Bolkcom says the route for the seven-day ride features a mix of easy riding and difficult terrain. The Iowans will have solar panels mounted on their bicycles to power the laptops that they’ll use to “blog” about the tour.
“We are going to be picking up bikes upon our arrival in Slovenia,” Bolkcom says. “Our host is getting our bikes all set up for us right now.”