By John Harrison
Southeast Solar Training Network

The Florida Solar Energy Center’s (FSEC) Southeast Solar Training Network (SSTN) held a Principles of PV Systems Design and Commissioning workshop on September 24-26, 2013 for previously trained instructors.

SSTN hands-on workshop at Florida Solar Energy Center
SSTN workshop attendees getting first hand experience. From left: Adam West, Southface, Atlanta; Erick Green, Gainesville Job Corps Center, FL; Sigurd Brocks, Erwin Technical Center, FL; Sam Ajlani, Lanier Technical College, GA; Ruth Nelson, Smart Grid North America, AL (also works with Auburn University)

Covering principles for designing and commissioning utility-interactive photovoltaic systems, the content was based on best industry practices and relevant standards, such as NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code, and IEC 62446: Grid connected photovoltaic systems – Minimum requirements for system documentation, commissioning tests and inspection.  Course objectives included developing basic requirements for PV system documentation and designs, and conducting commissioning tests and inspections.  The course also included in-class exercises as well as use of the latest commissioning equipment on actual PV systems.

“This course was intended for design professionals and SSTN instructors with working knowledge and experience with PV systems,” said John Harrison. According to Harrison, trainers must have completed either the SSTN week-long PV training or the FSEC program. Jim Dunlop, Jim Dunlop Solar, SSTN’s David Block, David Click and John Harrison developed and coordinated the training.

Fourteen SSTN trainers from southeast regional community colleges and technical institutions attended the workshop.  “Trainers represented educational institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee,” said Harrison.

For Day 1, a review of PV fundamentals introduced the trainers to the current state of the art in PV technologies. Detailed presentations on PV system sizing, mechanical, structural, and electrical design as well as code compliance were covered. A system sizing and design exercise helped reinforce these concepts.

Jim Dunlop at SSTN workshop
Jim Dunlop teaching at SSTN workshop

Day 2 featured PV system commissioning and IEC Standard 62446, along with new NEC code requirements for PV systems.

“The hands-on laboratory covered PV system testing and a demonstration of specific PV test and commissioning equipment,” Harrison added.  “The students used the test equipment on actual PV systems installed at FSEC.”

Of special value to workshop attendees were two IREC resources for solar permitting:

According to Harrison, attendees spent the last part of the workshop working with these permitting forms and worksheets. “They found these resources incredibly useful and helpful,” he said.