The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) is set to kick its solar training programme into high gear, in a bid to create a Bahamian workforce trained in renewable energy installation.
BTVI started the one-year programme during the 2009-2010 academic year, initially focusing on theory with minimal practical work. Now, with a curriculum developed and equipment in place, a practical component to complement the theory is expected to begin in 2014.
Three pieces of solar equipment have been purchased, and Bryan Methe, a mechanical engineer from Hampden Engineering Corporation in Massachusetts, was recently in the Bahamas to train the BTVI instructors be conducting the programme.
“Green energy is growing and it teaches us to be more environmentally responsible. This training is invaluable. It’s about cleaner energy,” said Mr Methe who has also conducted training in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia and throughout the US.
The equipment arrived at the BTVI campus unwired, so that students could learn and practice the wiring, operation and layout.
They will learn where to place solar panels, the amount of sunlight needed to power them, and differentiate between using them as standalone energy sources and tying them to an electrical grid.
BTVI’s dean of construction trades, Alexander Darville, said: “With the cost of fuel, what the fuel is doing to the environment and the availability of sun, solar is the way to go.”
He added that hampering the industry is the lack of legislation for net metering. “Consumers should get incentives for installing solar systems,” he suggested.
This is the case in the US, where the government offers financial incentives to encourage businesses to invest in renewable energy.
Meanwhile, solar energy instructor, Wellington Bain, said that although the equipment is expensive, home owners should consider investing in solar energy.
“The world is becoming solarised. It is growing towards more energy efficiency. We have to run with it,” he emphasised.