It’s the way of the future according to Randall Benson, founder of Gridworks Energy.
Benson has trained over 1,300 electricians over the past eight years — equipping them with the tools they need to install solar energy grids.
“Students get to install real solar power systems as you would see them on a roof,” he said. “Many of them have found employment in the solar industry here in Alberta.”
Benson has been teaching the tricks of the trade for a few years, but it’s over the past year that he’s seen interest in the program grow exponentially.
“The signals that we’ve received from the Alberta government over the past couple of years, with them wanting to bring in a renewable energy economy alongside oil and gas to diversify,” Benson said.
The majority of his students are electricians or electrical contractors who are looking for a new field to enter.
“Many are unemployed because of the downturn in the oil and gas economy,” he said. “A lot of these individuals find a course like this important to transition, so electricians have the base knowledge to install these systems, but what they need is a bit more of the specific knowledge to work solar and to do it properly and safely.”
Benson is himself an electrician who founded the company in 2000, seeing solar energy as the way of the future. The company oversees the design and installation of grid-connected photovoltaic systems throughout Canada from the high Arctic to Nova Scotia.
His courses run one, two, three or five days and include a mix of theory and practical training.
“We were full almost every course and a lot of the courses we were even turning people away,” he said.
Benson is now considering adding yet another monthly course to accommodate the increased demand.
“We’ve had great reaction to this course. Great testimonials from students who have since entered the field and most students can’t say enough how much they appreciate us putting on this course for them.”
The five day course costs about $1,600.