The passage of the Illinois Climate and Equity Jobs Act (CEJA) amplified the need for qualified designers and installers of renewable energy systems. Triton College (TC) offers courses leading to a certificate in Renewable Energy Technology Certificate. Courses in the program meets the educational requirements of North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications including the PV Installation Specialist and the PV Installation Professional. However, both certifications require field experience for students to qualify to take the examination.
To provide students with the required field experience, TC installed a 10kW solar array and energy storage system using a grant from the Illinois Green Economy Network. The array is located directly outside of the college’s renewable energy classroom and is connected to a new energy storage system inside the classroom. The materials selected for this system reflect the current components and technologies utilized in projects in Illinois and the rest of the country, including a ground mount array support system that does not require footings.
The system serves as a valuable demonstration system for the renewable energy classes which cover the basics of photovoltaic technology including system configurations, components and their functions, system design, layout, construction, and safety protocols. Throughout the semester students look at the statistics and output of the system as they work with changing weather, allowing them to examine the effects of energy production from the system. Students install various system components to build off-grid and utility interconnected systems including disassembling and reassembling the array, giving students a hands-on building experience. More notably, this solar array and energy storage system provides learners with the hands-on, experiential learning required to sit for NABCEP certification.
This generous grant from IGEN puts Triton College on the leading edge of the energy transition education.