SOURCE: Ontario Solar Academy

Ontario Solar Academy

March 09, 2010 14:33 ET

Solar Panel Installation Training Center Launches in Ontario: 5-Day Courses Scheduled Monthly

Ontario Solar Academy Establishes Career Training Institute to Meet Demand for Qualified Solar Professionals in Response to Ontario's Aggressive Feed-in-Tariff Program

TORONTO--(Marketwire - March 9, 2010) - Recognizing Canada's growing gap between solar energy capability and qualified rooftop installers, Ontario Solar Academy (OSA) recently launched a new center to provide professional training in the Greater Toronto Area.

Last week, 28 students completed OSA's first intensive course at its training center in Toronto. Adhering to the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners' (NABCEP) standard curriculum, participants spent 5 days training under OSA's lead instructor and NABCEP-certified installer, Sean White. In addition to NABCEP's 10 Learning Objectives Skill Set, students devoted many hours to hands-on workshops, receiving extensive practical experience in solar site evaluation, installation, and wiring. 

OSA's inaugural class included seasoned electrical contractors, pioneers in the roofing industry, entrepreneurial developers, and a number of recent college graduates. When asked why such diverse attendees would commute from locations across Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and the US, OSA's director, Jacob Travis, offered that, "the bottleneck in Canada's solar industry isn't technological or even financial; there's a critical shortage of trained professionals." 

A recent survey commissioned by the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) echoed such claims. CanSIA's solar labour market survey found that after an anticipated doubling of the workforce by 2012, more than half of all solar companies in Canada will face severe labor shortages, with installer positions accounting for 78% of all unmet demand, followed closely by system designers (51%), project managers (40%), and engineers (40%). 

The course also featured guest speakers, including solar veteran Ben Rodgers, one of Ontario's first NABCEP-certified installers and current Solar Power Systems Specialist for Sanyo Canada. Kevin McGinnity, of Wolfedale Electric, was in attendance as well, both as a student and presenter. After managing a recent, large-scale, commercial installation in Mississauga, Ontario, McGinnity concluded that "skilled electricians will be required to perform solar installations; where there is potential for power, so too should there be training and safety precautions."

Inspired by the success of this first 5-day course, recent graduates of the program launched the Ontario Solar Network under the aegis of OSA. Designed to facilitate open discourse, group purchasing, and project collaboration, the Ontario Solar Network hopes to bring greater cohesion to Ontario's growing solar industry. Tracy Hammer, President of SunLit Technologies, explains that the Network exists to "increase affordability, boost collective bargaining power, and improve transparency, not only for its members but also for the Ontario solar industry as a whole."

Both OSA and the Ontario Solar Network plan to take advantage of the "solar rush" stemming from the Ontario Power Authority's feed-in-tariff (FIT / microFIT) incentive programs. These incentives, woven into Ontario's Green Energy Act, not only reward early adopters of solar technology, but they also make Ontario an attractive prospect for any investor with an eye on clean energy's future. Phil Winters, CEO of E*Gen Power, suggests that, "the feed-in-tariffs have created a great opportunity for anyone with a roof to become a solar power plant owner. However, trained design and installations teams are critical to the success of the Ontario program."

OSA offers training courses at least once a month in Toronto. Upcoming sessions are slated to begin March 22, April 26, and May 24, with new locations throughout Ontario scheduled for the future. Ontario Solar Academy is a division of Solar Academy International, which plans to open new centers in the US, Canada, and emerging markets around the world. For more information on OSA, visit www.SolarAcademy.ca.

About Ontario Solar Academy:

A division of Solar Academy International (SAI), Ontario Solar Academy offers training courses based on NABCEP learning objectives to quickly advance expertise in Solar PV (Photovoltaic) design and installation. 

Ontario Solar Academy's NABCEP-certified instructors are experienced, solar professionals with extensive backgrounds in career-focused education. The 5-Day PV Design & Installation Training includes hands-on workshops that prepare participants for the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam.