SolarWorld, America’s largest manufacturer of crystalline-silicon solar technology, has launched a training partnership with industry-recognized renewable-energy school Solar Energy International (SEI) that will include discounts on online coursework. The partnership brings together two solar-industry leaders: SolarWorld has more than 40 years of experience in U.S. solar manufacturing, while the nonprofit SEI, with 45,000 alumni worldwide, is celebrating 25 years as a training organization.
The partnership couldn’t come at a better time in light of the fast-growing field of installation, both organizations say. SolarWorld Americas this year is increasing U.S. module shipments at a high rate, at the same time that, according to the Solar Foundation’s 2015 Job Census, total industry employment is expected to rise 14.7 percent in 2016, to about 240,000 workers. SEI, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Training Provider of the Year, is poised to help prepare the growing workforce: Its 40 instructors and curriculum developers train roughly 4,000 students a year.
“SEI is proud to have been selected by SolarWorld as a training partner,” SEI Executive Director Kathy Swartz said. “For years, SolarWorld has been a dedicated supporter of our nonprofit mission through equipment donations and other charitable support. The new partnership takes this connection to the next level and galvanizes the dedication of both of our organizations in working toward a highly skilled clean-energy workforce.”
SolarWorld’s current and prospective authorized installers will receive exclusive discounts for SEI’s online courses, ranging from solar training opportunities for solar workers just entering the field to those for industry veterans looking for advanced technical knowledge. Course credits can be applied toward industry licensing and certification programs, such as those offered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
SolarWorld training personnel also will work with SEI to integrate product-specific training into course curriculum. Following manufacturer installation instructions is critical in establishing long-term system integrity and maintaining product guarantees, according to SolarWorld. The company wants to help installers understand exactly what they need to do so that solar system owners can enjoy peace of mind for the 25-plus years of their systems’ productive lives.
Training opportunities now abound for SolarWorld installers. The company offers free webinars, and solar salespeople, designers and installers can visit the company in Oregon for a two-day, hands-on course, including factory tours. Installers can receive discounts in choosing among SEI’s six-week online courses, with topics ranging from the basics of grid-connected PV systems to advanced battery-based systems. They also can attend SolarWorld’s annual Installer Summit in Portland, Ore. – this year, from June 7 through 9 – or SEI’s technical lab classes in Paonia, Colo.
“At SolarWorld, we believe that the success of the solar industry is built on safe, reliable solar installations,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld. “This includes, but is not limited to, the solar module. SolarWorld’s partnership with SEI will help cultivate a trained workforce that emphasizes system quality above all else.”