Most people know that solar PV as a technology is good for the environment and that it will have a positive impact on future generations but what about the present, the people living today? Besides the environment, are there real tangible benefits for people right now? The answer is a resounding yes. One of the key advantages of the solar photovoltaic industry is job creation.
As the solar PV industry in Barbados continues to develop it will require a wide variety of both professional and skilled workers in the following areas:
|Advertising and Marketing||Sales||Business Development|
|Solar PV System Design||Site Assessment||Equipment Procurement|
|Project Management||Electrical||Customer Service|
Globally, when compared to the fossil fuel industry, the solar PV industry has the potential to create more jobs. The main reason for this is the difference in energy density of the fuel being collected. Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are concentrated forms of energy for which reserves exist in specific areas. Due to this concentration, a relatively small work force is required to collect and use the fuel. Sunshine on the other hand, is a diffuse form of energy. Sunshine falls everywhere on the planet, to varying degrees. As a result of the energy being “spread out”, more fuel collectors are needed i.e. solar panels. Each system requires manufacturing, sales, design and engineering, installation and sometimes maintenance. Simply put, more effort is required to capture the same quantity of energy as would be derived from fossil fuels which translates into more jobs.
For example, imagine having watermelons growing in your backyard. You could go outside, pick one to eat and feel full; very straightforward. Now imagine the watermelons were no longer available in your backyard and you had to pick grapes instead but they were spread out across the entire neighborhood. To feel as full from eating grapes as from a single watermelon would require a large quantity of grapes. Picking them would take more time, and you would most likely recruit others to help pick. The graphs and statistics below highlight this point.
How do the numbers compare in Barbados? In November 2014 a labour market information study was conducted by the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) and Sault College (SC) of Canada. 19 renewable energy employers and associated key stakeholders were interviewed for the process. Based on survey responses:
- At least 189 people are currently employed in the Barbados solar industry
- Employers plan to hire an additional 121 employees in 2015, primarily in construction and installation
- Employers plan to hire a further 54 employees in 2017
There is no turning back now, the world is moving towards renewable forms of energy generation and Barbados is part of that trend. With the solar photovoltaic industry being relatively new, early employees have the opportunity to start on the ground floor and move up in the company as it grows with the overall industry. Further opportunities will be created as solar companies in Barbados take their knowledge and expertise into other islands within the Caribbean region.
Solar photovoltaic training and education
Specialized training and education in solar PV is strongly encouraged for anyone seeking to gain employment in this growing industry. It greatly increases the ability to perform the job and will be a competitive advantage over others applying for the same position. Two options for solar photovoltaic training in Barbados (or accessible from Barbados) are:
Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP)
Following a partnership with Sault College, SJPP developed a curriculum for solar photovoltaic installations. This is currently the only such program being offered on the island and provides a theoretical and practical learning experience. Details for RNEW1113 Photovoltaic Installations 1 can be found here.
Solar Energy International (SEI)
Solar Energy International (SEI) is one of the oldest and largest renewable energy training organizations in the world. Founded in 1991 as a non-profit educational service to the renewable energy sector, SEI has over 20 years experience, and 35,000+ Solar Energy International (SEI) students and alumni worldwide.
SEI is an excellent solution for anyone searching for advanced training in grid tied design, off grid design and solar sales. I have taken four courses with SEI and the training is first class. Travelling outside of Barbados to attend the hands-on courses can be expensive; however SEI offers a number of courses entirely online eliminating the travel expense. You can learn more about the hands-on courses and online learning here. To get a feel of the online option, you can try their free introduction to renewable energy course.
A combination of hands on training at SJPP, coupled with online training from SEI would put a prospective solar PV job seeker well ahead of the pack in Barbados and the Caribbean.