Training to meet demand for solar skills of the future

Premier Alan Winde welcomed False Bay College lecturer Akhona Winisi at the State of the Province Address, held at Parliament, last month.

False Bay College is to roll out a new course to train students to install and repair solar panels.

Renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaic systems, have a special importance in South Africa as the country tries to keep the lights on.

A photovoltaic system is made of one or more solar panels combined with an inverter and other electrical and mechanical hardware that use energy from the sun to generate electricity.

The new course, to be offered at the college’s Westlake campus, are the result of a collaboration with the Manufacturing, Engineering, and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) and the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC), the college said in a statement.

Akhona Winisi and Sinethemba Mpati have been training since March 2019 to run the new course, and in January, they attended the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, which showed off new renewable energy systems and developments.

Mr Winisi said he was inspired by the next generation of innovators who were developing new solutions for complex challenges in the expansion of green-energy technology.

Mr Mpati added: “We now know more of what is happening in the global stage regarding renewable energy. In Abu Dhabi, we had numerous opportunities to meet up with peers in the industry and took the chance to make connections.

“Visiting Masdar City, which is considered one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, also gave us insight into what it entails to be part of the ultimate sustainable urban development from a research and development technology and innovation perspective.”

Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, is being built to rely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources as a model for sustainability and green urban living.

Following his visit to the summit, Mr Winisi was invited by Premier Alan Winde to attend his State of the Province Address in February, where Mr Winde noted that the photovoltaic qualification – being rolled out at several colleges in the province – would become critical in the “drive toward energy resilience“ and to ”end our reliance on coal“.

Lecturers like Mr Winisi were preparing a generation of young people to become “solar heroes”, Mr Winde said.