By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A BAHAMIAN renewable energy provider has begun to outfit the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to offer solar courses.
Philip Holdom, president of Alternative Energy Supply, and chief technology officer of Sustainable Energy, is readying BTVI to offer courses ranging from design and installation to understanding solar principles, capacity, monitoring and maintenance. He has himself agreed to teach the initial series of courses based on a curriculum he created in conjunction with BTVI.
"The potential for anyone who is interested in studying renewables, including solar, is unlimited," said Mr Holdom, who installed his first renewable energy source on two Family Islands nearly three decades ago.
"For any young person who is deciding on a career, or anyone in the construction or engineering fields now who wants a new challenge, I encourage them to look at studying renewables.
"As fossil fuels are eventually phased out, and concern with environmental protection plus efficiency, consistency in delivery of power and reliability makes the demand for sustainable energy sources greater, the fields will be wide open for those with the proper skill sets."
Holdom does not have to work hard to sell prospective students on the value of studying solar.
Students, instructors and support staff, including maintenance personnel, were on hand to receive the equipment that Alternative Energy Supply and Sustainable Energy are providing,
"We were like the new kid on the block and everyone wanted a first-hand peek. It's great that there is so much interest," said Mr Holdom.
"The new national energy legislation has opened up the possibility of using multiple solar technologies for the private and public sector. Whether off-grid, grid tie or grid interactive technologies are used, there is an immediate need for people trained in renewable energy, science, math, and system programming."
The partnership between the consortium and BTVI was announced in September, with the Institute's president, Robert W. Robertson, welcoming it warmly.
"We are really pleased to have someone of the background and expertise of Philip Holdom to come into BTVI and do this," Dr Robertson said, noting that the APS-Sustainable Energy consortium had a combined 50-year installation history in renewable energy, with 370 Mega Watt (MW) of solar installs spread between the Bahamas and Europe.
"This is a trade school, and this is exactly the kind of partnership that provides us with the ability to train those who want to advance their skills, and others who want to train to fill needed positions. There is a lot of growth in this area, and we expect there will be a great response to the offering."
Levels of certification will range from basic solar theory and installation practices (101) to intermediate and advanced courses in renewable energy design, installation and programming (201 and 301).
Courses are expected to start during the Winter term.