The government consultation on reduced subsidies for domestic solar electricity should not distract installers from taking up essential training to acquire ‘green skills’, according to Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has proposed lower Feed-in Tariff rates for schemes of up to 250kW in response to unprecedented demand and the falling costs of technology.

Ann Watson says: “The current tariff has created a huge amount of interest in solar photovoltaics, but the changes don’t alter the long-term need to reduce carbon emissions to meet efficiency targets and protect the environment.  With the Green Deal coming next autumn and the Feed-in Tariff set to continue – albeit at a lower rate – we expect to see a growing demand for green installers with the technical skills to work with current and emerging technologies.

“In fact, as the market develops, it’s even more important to prove your expertise as a green installer by holding accredited qualifications.  Consumers need to be confident that they’re choosing the right option to improve energy efficiency for their business or in their home.  EAL qualifications offer a route to accreditation from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and are a must for ambitious installers looking to seize opportunities in the renewables market.”

Bristol based renewable energy company, Ecocetera, was among the first employers to put its staff through EAL qualifications in solar photovoltaic systems in spring 2011.  The company has seen a five-fold increase in demand for solar installations over the last year and expects sustainable growth to continue despite the lower tariff.

Jeannie Meyer, Director of Ecocetera, says: “Formal training is essential to understand the regulations and avoid the practical hazards of working at height with electricity and glass panels.  In an emerging industry you need a way of identifying reputable companies – EAL qualifications show that our staff have a complete grasp of industry standards and can also talk to our customers about the impacts and benefits of the available technologies.”

Funding is currently available until July 2012 through the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies to help installers become competent in one of the four main technologies: solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, heat pumps, and rainwater harvesting and recycling.  For more information visit www.nsaet.org.uk


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