Real Jobs. Real Progress. Real Solar: solar education in North Carolina
By Wade Fulghum, Assistant Director, Economic Development Partnership, Office of Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development, NC State University
PITTSBORO – Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) and the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University collaborated to conduct an entire day devoted to education and outreach around solar technologies. The event was entitled “Real Jobs. Real Progress. Real Solar.”
CCCC hosted this informational event on March 23 at the Chatham County Campus. The North Carolina Solar Center is one of nine regional trainers providing train-the-trainer program for community college instructors in solar technologies and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. The public was invited to come and enjoy the workshops and activities geared to help people learn more about solar power technology – the conversion of sunlight into electrical power – and what it can mean to them. All activities and workshops were free.
During the Real Solar event, CCCC announced its partnership with FLS Energy for the installation of solar panel arrays on the roofs of Buildings 1 and 2 at the Chatham Campus. FLS Energy will design, install, own and maintain the rooftop system consisting of 550 Suniva solar collectors. The environmentally clean project will generate 132 kW of electricity. FLS intends to sell the power to Progress Energy’s grid and fund the project from the available tax credits and Renewable Energy Credits for the system. The college will benefit by receiving an annual lease payment for the use of the roof space. The college also has the option to purchase the system after seven years.
“The use of solar power is growing rapidly in North Carolina and the nation,” said Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant. “CCCC is partnering with major players in the field to provide training and to educate the public about the tremendous potential of this power source and how it can impact their lives.” The college has earned the nickname “Green Central” for its leadership in preparing the workforce for the growing green economy.
In 2010, it also opened three new energy-efficient, LEED-certified buildings at its Chatham Campus and Siler City Center. The N.C. Solar Center at NC State University is a regional and national leader in training renewable energy and energy efficiency professionals. The USDOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network supports the professional development of instructors who train the nation’s solar workforce on photovoltaic (PV) and solar heating and cooling (SHC) installations.
The day was full of activities, workshops and sessions. Here’s a sampling:
Lyra Rakusin from the NC Solar Center conduced the “How to Land Your Green Energy Dream Job” session, designed to help inform attendees how to leverage knowledge, education, skills and interests. Find out what training, certifications and organizations can boost chances to land a dream job in the renewable energy field. High-school students learned about educational pathways to pursue a career in the clean energy industry, saw a solar electric system, and toured CCCC’s facilities.
IREC’s Joe Sarubbi gave an overview of what the U.S. Department of Energy, N.C. Solar Center and Central Carolina Community College are doing to promote solar training. Joe Sarubi, from IREC discusses IREC’s role as the National Administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network.
Dr. Pam Carpenter, Principal Investigator on the DOE funded project discussed the approach of the team.
David DelVecchio, an instructor in Solar Photovoltaics at the NC Solar Center shows the DOE funded mobile training trailer designed by the NC Solar Center.