Affecting widespread change in behavior often hinges on government support. Within the solar energy industry, some of the best examples of progress have been tied to government initiatives – federal, state, and local. There’s no doubt that government solar training programs can help career-changers break into a new industry and fill the needs of our workforce.
It begins as a high-level decision to support or require solar energy in a jurisdiction. This decision trickles down and ignites a series of process changes. Suddenly, commercial and/or residential projects need to be powered by solar, and employers scramble to hire qualified solar energy contractors to do the work. And thus, solar jobs are created. But before anyone can fill these jobs, they need to have appropriate training and qualifications. This too can be supported at the government level.
If you’re ready to begin learning how YOU can become a solar energy contractor, check out our Getting Started With Solar series.
Keep reading to learn more about government solar training.
U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative
The SunShot Initiative is a national effort to support solar energy adoption by funding cooperative research, development, demonstration, and deployment by private companies, universities, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and national laboratories.
The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar and solar-compatible technologies worldwide, won funding from the SunShot Initiative to expand its solar training efforts.
The Solar Foundation now manages two nationwide programs for solar training: the Solar Training Network and Solar Ready Vets.
The Solar Training Network is the newer of the two programs, having debuted its website in April 2017. This program aims to connect solar jobseekers with training providers and employers. Recent research from the Solar Training Network indicated that 84% of solar installation companies had difficulty filling open positions and that solar employers expect to add over 25,000 solar jobs this year. These numbers represent significant potential for the solar workforce as well as heightened demand for qualified workers.
In 2016, Solar Ready Vets established solar installation training programs at 10 military bases across the United States and helped more than 500 military service personnel transition into solar job opportunities. As a veteran-owned solar training company, Everblue is proud to have been involved with the Solar Ready Vets program. We are currently in our seventh Solar Ready Vets training session in partnership with Fayettevile Technical Community College, offering our services to military personnel stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Federal Correctional Institutions
It’s not uncommon for correctional institutions to offer job retraining classes. To adequately prepare individuals for today’s workforce, prison administrators must be on the lookout for new adult worker skills, such as solar energy installation.
The Federal Correctional Institution at Elkton showed leadership in 2012 when it partnered with Everblue to offer solar training to inmates. In addition to learning about solar energy and gaining hands-on skills for solar panel installation, inmates also satisfied the eligibility requirements to sit for an entry-level solar certification exam.
Hopefully more correctional institutions will follow Elkton’s lead as a means of providing a valuable service to their inmates and helping to meet the demands of our future workforce.
Local Building Code
One of the most effective drivers of solar energy adoption is the building code because construction professionals are obligated to meet their local requirements.
We discussed in a previous post how 5 California cities now require rooftop solar. And in July 2017, city commissioners passed an ordinance in South Miami to require solar panels on new single-family homes.
In South Miami, the ruling affects residential properties only. But in California, many of the cities with local ordinances require rooftop solar on both residential and commercial properties.
Many cities without rooftop solar requirements in their building code at least recommend solar-ready building practices. It’s likely that we will see an increase in solar-ready homes and rooftop solar across the country, especially as local building codes begin to incorporate such language.
Opportunities for Solar Energy in Puerto Rico
With the grid and distribution lines damaged from Hurricane Maria, it’s the perfect time for the Puerto Rican government to rebuild with clean energy at top of mind.
The electrical grid in Puerto Rico could take an estimated four to six months to get back online. Government officials in Puerto Rico have spoken with several solar and storage companies about what can be done. Many are already aware of Elon Musk reaching out to the Puerto Rican governor on Twitter to see how he could help.
The Energy Storage Association is already working with U.S. federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and the U.S. Army, as well as the American Logistics Aid Network, to coordinate humanitarian relief and electrical rebuilding work.
With the average cost of solar panels decreasing each year, consumers and stakeholders worldwide are increasingly researching solar energy as a viable option for their homes and buildings. With government support, available through training programs and building code requirements, we can initiate a significant shift in thinking and process when it comes to energy generation and storage.
Utility rebates and government incentive programs will further encourage the growth and adoption of solar energy practices. For more information about government solar funding opportunities, check out the DSIRE database.
If you work for a government-funded agency and need solar training, please visit Everblue’s Corporate Training page or call us at (800) 460-2575. We have government solar training options with flexible formats and bulk pricing.