VTDI to help schools go solar

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

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The tertiary arm of the HEART Trust/NTA, Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), is forging several partnerships with schools to encourage the use of alternative energy resources.

Students at VTDI’s Gordon Town-based campus in St Andrew will work with select schools to instal solar panels as part of the Alternative Energy-Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems programme offered at the institution, but the schools would need to have purchased equipment prior to installation.


Acting director/principal of VTDI Donovon Jones said the initiative was in keeping with its dedication to ensure students are skilled as well as knowledgeable to do the job.


"We are into competency-based education and training. While the students are in training they will instal these systems in order to complete the practical component of the course. At the end of their training, they will have the competence and skills to instal these systems," said Jones.


Some secondary institutions have already partnered with the VTDI to generate clean energy through the installation and use of PV systems, which will improve their economic viability and environmental sustainability. Under the agreement, the schools will enrol two of their staff members to be trained to instal and maintain the panels.


The seven-week alternative energy course comprises five modules and is only offered at VTDI’s Gordon Town and Mandeville locations. Training covers PV orientation and site surveying, energy audit, PV system designs, solar system installations and grid tie as well as PV system maintenance and trouble shooting.


According to information gathered by the HEART Trust/NTA’s Labour Market Research and Intelligence Department, PV installers are in high demand across the island.


Hugh Cargill, instructor at VTDI, stated that this is as a result of the Government’s established target to increase the use of renewables and the expansion of existing renewable energy plants.


"If a country is to effectively switch from its dependence on conventional methods of generating electricity to the use of PV systems, trained personnel are essential to make it happen. If individuals are not trained to carry out analysis at a prospective site, conduct energy audits, and attain the skills to not only instal the systems but design, maintain and troubleshoot them, then millions of dollars could be wasted, as the system which should last at least 25 years will be rendered useless after a short time," warned Cargill.


Solar energy has been touted as a means of reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, which negatively impact the environment.


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