The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has officially restarted its solar energy programme, believing this sector is primed for “take off”.
The renewable energy programme has been reintroduced, following an initial offering in 2009 that trained persons to become solar energy technicians.
BTVI’s dean of construction trades, Alexander Darville, said the relaunched initiative is a 27-week programme with 270 contact hours.
“Solar will take off. There will be a demand for these trained individuals,” Mr Darville said. “Those joining the programme will have a jumpstart on the industry.
“They will be trained to maintain these solar systems. For example, the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporstion (BAIC) is about to install a 35 kilowatt system. That’s a job for someone to maintain beyond their staff. That’s only one example.”
Mr Darville added that with residential solar systems already in the Abacos and the Exumas, more users will want to have Bahamians maintain those systems.
“Instead of them flying someone in on a work permit, BTVI will have a pool of solar energy technicians to do it. We understand the importance of conserving energy and cutting costs,” Mr Darville said.
Solar is expected to help businesses and homeowners meet part of their energy needs at a lower cost, as it can be converted into electricity via thermal energy and photovoltaic (PV) panels.
“With Value Added Tax (VAT) coming on board, it will affect how much energy you consume, and solar is an alternative means for energy,” added Mr Darville, who is one of the programme instructors.
BTVI has purchased three pieces of solar equipment, and instructors have already been trained by a mechanical engineer from Hampden Engineering Corporation in Massachusetts, Bryan Methe. BTVI’s instructors were initially trained at Solar Energy International in Colorado.
The equipment deliberately arrived at the BTVI campus unwired, so that students could learn and practice the wiring, operation and layout. They will become knowledgeable on where to place solar panels, the amount of sunlight needed to power them, and differentiate between using them as stand-alone energy sources and tying them to an electrical grid.
“Students will be exposed and get an understanding of how to install the system into the roof,” said Mr Darville.
For those who are still sceptical about solar energy, Mr.Darville said that esides being more environmentally friendly, it is worth the investment as going green is cheaper in the long run.
“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.