What is Solar Training for Related Professionals?
In addition to people who work directly with solar energy systems, many related professionals play a key role in spurring solar adoption, ensuring system safety, and reducing installation costs. First responders, safety officials, and building managers and owners must keep up with rapidly emerging and advancing technologies. Professionals in areas such as architecture, real estate, finance, insurance, and state regulations are also essential to enabling a greater understanding and acceptance of solar energy technologies.
Why is Solar Training for Related Professionals Important?
Deployment of solar and other distributed energy resources has been growing rapidly, and the professionals who must integrate these technologies into their communities’ broader planning, safety, and resilience efforts may lack access to the most up-to-date information. This can lead to operational concerns and create barriers to consumer understanding of these technologies. If left unchecked, these gaps can lead to safety and reliability issues, difficulty securing financing, higher permitting and regulatory hurdles, and increased overall costs for customers of clean energy technologies.
For example, a real estate agent helping a client navigate the purchase or sale of a home with an installed solar array must know how to properly market and value the installed solar energy system; similarly, an architect or builder looking to incorporate solar technologies must learn how to properly design and plan for these systems. Safety officials must recognize proper installation practices and building owners and managers (as well as occupants) must understand how to safely interact with these new technologies.
SETO Research in Solar Training for Related Professionals
SETO has supported several training programs for related professionals who play a key role in easing solar adoption and ensuring the safety and integrity of solar energy systems:
- Dynamic and Responsive Distributed Energy Resource Educational Solutions for Building, Fire, and Safety Department Officials – developed through an award with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, these educational materials and resources are focused on clean energy codes, standards, permitting, and inspection for building managers, owners, and officials interacting with solar energy and storage systems.
- The Education Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding program develops training programs for professionals who are increasingly engaging with distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar energy systems, energy storage systems, efficient building technologies, and alternative-fuel vehicles.
- The International Association of Fire Fighters leads the Safe Response to Renewable Energy Hazards project, testing installed residential energy storage systems at Underwriters Laboratory to understand what happens when DER fail and pose risks to emergency responders.
- The National Fire Protection Association is developing the Distributed Energy Resources Safety Training Program, where they test DER equipment in controlled structure fires and related incidents and development of modularized courses on DER safety
- Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) – tackles soft costs by addressing gaps in solar training and energy education, both within the solar workforce and in professions that play a crucial role in solar deployment.
- Solar Education for Real Estate Agents – these online continuing education courses from Elevate Energy are for real estate agents looking to learn about energy efficient and solar homes, and gain the skills needed to market these special homes.
- Firefighter and Code Official Training – these online courses from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council teach firefighters and code officials how to operate safely around solar PV systems and inspect for safety compliance and best practices. The 5 solar inspection video courses are recognized by the International Code Council (ICC), the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) for continuing education units.
- Solar Energy Guide for Homebuilders – this guide provides homebuilders with the information they need to offer solar homes to their customers.
- Solar Lending Professional Training – these online training courses cover the knowledge, skills and practices needed to engage in solar lending for community-based lending institutions (credit unions, CDFIs, and community banks) that are interested in individual consumer and/or community commercial-level solar financing.
- Community Power Accelerator Learning Lab – this online training is for non-profit organizations, cooperatives, and mission-driven organizations interested in building out a business line to develop community solar projects. It includes an introductory course as well as an intensive instructor-led course.