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Since 2011, the SITN Seminar Series has educated and informed the RTPs and others in the solar training community on timely and relevant topics in solar training. All seminars are archived here.


Nov 5: Explore New Solar Career Map: An Addition to Your Workforce Education Toolkit

The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate nearly 20-times faster than the overall economy, offering an exciting range of opportunities for new and incumbent workers. And now there is an updated tool to help you find out more about this rapidly advancing and changing industry.

IREC’s unique, newly enhanced Solar Career Map features the faces and information behind the expanding universe of solar-energy occupations. It describes diverse jobs across the industry, charting possible progression between them, and identifies the types of experience and credentials necessary to do them well. In this webinar, attendees learned how to:

  • Access the Map’s interactive features, including 40 jobs in 4 sectors and how they are related.
  • Apply ideas about how you can leverage the map to make your work more effective.
  • Use the map as a ‘conversation starter’ with internal and external audiences.

If you missed the webinar, this 11-minute video is an efficient summary of the key facets. 

Sept 22: Testing Reveals Strength of Residential Roof Structures for Solar Installations

Are structural engineering analyses a requirement for PV permits in your area? Are they required even on newer construction? Do you ever wonder whether this step is really necessary?

The rooftop solar PV permitting process varies greatly, even between neighboring cities.  Inconsistencies between jurisdictions can cause difficulties for solar installers who work across boundaries, adding sizable permitting costs and delays that may not be required in neighboring jurisdictions.

To address this issue, Sandia National Laboratories conducted a series of tests funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to evaluate the structural behavior of common residential roof structures. The effort involved a wide range of destructive tests on numerous scaled wood structures to produce and capture data on actual rooftop load capacity.

The SITN invited Sandia National Laboratories researcher Brian Dwyer to discuss a recent Sandia Labs report on how testing results demonstrate most rooftops are sufficiently strong to accommodate PV installations. Dwyer discussed which building practices increase rooftop strength by up to 74 percent, and why the most common process used for rooftop structural analysis fails to produce a realistic reflection of the ability of most rooftops to sustain PV loads. Replay.

Other resources cited in the presentation
Fact sheet: Reducing Soft Costs of Rooftop Solar Installations by Demonstrating Structural Strength [PDF]

Download the slide deck [PDF]

April 14: Veterans Affairs Approval Processes, the GI Bill and Solar Training

Key to the solar industry’s continued growth is the next generation of skilled professionals to support its technologies. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched a pilot solar installation training program to provide military veterans transitioning out of active duty with the skills needed to become the leaders of the nation’s clean energy economy. The Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) is playing an active advisory role in the development of the pilot project. According to the White House, the SITN aims to train 75,000 new solar installers in total by 2020, some of who will be veterans. Since 1944, millions of veterans have used GI Bill education benefits to attend colleges, universities and other kinds of training programs.

In this webinar, the Department of Veterans Affairs shared information about how institutions and programs can become VA-approved to enable veterans to use the GI Bill education benefits to cover solar workforce skills training. Replay   [PDF

Other resources cited in the presentation
WEAMS institution search
State Approving Agency Contact Information
General VA Education Benefits Information


April 9: SolarCity and Employment Opportunities for the Solar Workforce

Founded in 2006, SolarCity has grown to become America’s largest solar provider with more than 6,000 employees. Their customers include tens of thousands of homeowners, more than 400 schools, including Stanford University, government agencies like the U.S. Armed Forces and Department of Homeland Security, and well-known corporate clients like eBay, HP, Intel, Walgreens and Walmart. With such unprecedented growth, how and where is a company like SolarCity finding employees? What skills are they looking for in a readied workforce? How can the SITN more closely partner and communicate with SolarCity? Learn from SolarCity about where they provide service, employment opportunities, operations, and military recruitment efforts. Replay


Mar 25: PV Residential Rooftop Installation Safety

Falls from roofs may be the most obvious hazard workers are exposed to when working in a rooftop environment. But there are other less obvious hazards rooftop PV workers are exposed to on a daily basis. Federal OSHA mandates workers receive training on all hazards to which they will be exposed and many trainers may not be aware of-or familiar with-these other safety topics. This webinar provided a comprehensive overview of specific hazards presented in rooftop PV work, how the federal OSHA regulations apply to each and ways that solar industry trainers can incorporate these topics into their training efforts. Experts from the National Roofing Contractor’s Association and Roof Integrated Solar Energy presented (NOTE: video and audio slightly out of synch. Refer to the PDF when listening/watching the Replay)


Oct 8: Institute for Building Technology & Safety PV Quality Data

Real-time trends in solar PV installation deficiencies are becoming an important aspect of the industry. In this webinar, Christopher Doyle and Rudolph Saporite, both with the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS), shared quality assurance data collected by IBTS national field inspection services, and revealed real-time trends in solar PV installation deficiencies so trainers can emphasize these areas in future training.  The webinar focused on the data analysis of approximately 2,000 nationwide, inspected systems in the past year.

IBTS provides Solar PV QA inspections for many of the largest residential solar financing firms in the U.S. IBTS works with each of these providers to develop and provide quality assurance programs through onsite field inspections of installed solar PV systems. These inspections consist of a post-installation inspection for code compliance, best practices and quality of installation, along with a shade analysis report.  IBTS currently performs approximately 250 inspections per month, with 25 technical field inspectors in over 15 states. Catch the replay.  Download the slide deck.


Sept 18: U.S. Solar Market Trends 2014

The solar market, while relatively young, is an increasingly important and vital part of the American economy. What are the trends in this market, and what forces are at work? Which sectors of the market are strongest, and why? What are the prospects for solar energy in the near future?  Now in its seventh year, IREC’s highly respected 2014 U.S. Solar Market Trends report answers these questions by providing public data on U.S. solar installations in 2013 by technology, state and solar market sectors. It offers insight on the major factors affecting the solar market, such as photovoltaic prices, strong consumer demand, available financing, renewable portfolio standards in some states, and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities. The report includes ranking of Top 10 States in several categories.

Solar Market Trends Report author and IREC Vice President Larry Sherwood and SITN presented an in-depth look at PV installations in 2013, including growth trends by sector and state rankings for installations. If you’re involved in the solar industry, or wish to become involved, this webinar will provide valuable information about the rapidly changing solar market in the U.S.  Catch the replay


May 6: PV Operations & Maintenance

As PV installed capacity continues to grow, systems age, sizes increase, and lessons are learned, operations and maintenance (O&M) has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the PV industry. The reasons for O&M are many: preventative maintenance is much less expensive than reactive maintenance; it helps maximize system uptime and availability; it’s essential to maintain equipment warranties; and potential problems can be nipped in the bud. In this seminar, O&M strategies and common tools and procedures will be covered. The goal is ensuring peak productivity, predictable ROI, and PV system safety and longevity.  Solar Energy International’s Rebekah Hren and Brian Mehalic were presenters for this informative seminar. Catch the replay 


April 23: Commissioning PV Systems

Proper design and installation of PV systems is important for efficient long-term reliability, proper system commissioning­ – regardless of system size – sets the stage. Commissioning encompasses the unique opportunity to verify the quality of the installation; test subsystems and “fire up” the system; verify performance; fix any issues that arise; and, of course, document the tests and results. New analytical tools for commissioning and performance verification allow fast access to information that previously had been very difficult to gather. Whether commissioning a system, locating intermittent ground faults, or looking for module failures, knowing the techniques and methodology to safely and effectively use these new tools requires training.  Solar Energy International’s Rebekah Hren and Brian Mehalic, highly respected in this area, led this seminar. Watch the replay


November 19: Multimedia Tutorials for PV Code Officials & Installers

If the US solar photovoltaic market is to grow routinely and cumulatively at 40% every year, there needs to be ever more rapid and effective ways to train prospective PV installers and code inspectors as well as keep existing PV installers and inspectors current on the latest PV product developments. This training needs to accommodate the near constant movement of PV inspectors and installers as well as utilize visual, auditory, and tactile learning techniques to ensure retention of the training content. To address this need, Sandia National Laboratories and New Mexico State University (NMSU) have been developing a series of short YouTube-style, multimedia training modules on specific, specialized topics that would be most useful to PV installers and inspectors alike. Available online, the training videos can be accessed on a variety of portable and mobile devices. This webinar introduced the training modules developed to date, provided more details on the rationale and production of this material, and included clips as examples of the online content. Vipin Gupta, physicist at Sandia National Laboratories, and Gabriela Cisneros, Research Engineer at New Mexico State University (NMSU), and Corey Asbill, NMSU, are the presenters. Watch the replay 

September 12: The IREC Credentialing Program: Everything You Need to Know (and more!)

IREC is the leading credentialing body for training provider accreditation and instructor certification in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. Pat Fox and Laure-Jeanne Davignon of the IREC credentialing team talked about the IREC Credentialing Program; the process for organizations and trainers to apply. They discussed the two new IREC credentials that will be released 9/16/13. And they mentioned the new ANSI-IREC Accreditation Program, the first specialty accreditation focused on certificate programs offering safe, high quality training for the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry. Watch the replay. Slide deck [PDF]

 June 4: U.S. Solar Market & Installation Trends 2013

IREC’s highly anticipated annual report released in July, U.S. Solar Market and Installation Trends 2013, compiles and analyzes public data on U.S. solar installations by technology, state and market sector for 2012. Now in its sixth year, IREC’s 2013 Solar Market Trends Report covers solar technologies that produce electricity, including photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). The webinar featured information about PV installations in 2012, including growth trends by sector and state rankings for installations. Watch the replay.


December 4: Solar Content Integration: Creating a Nimble Solar Workforce

Dr. Jerry Ventre explores options for developing a more nimble solar workforce by affecting the education and training curriculum for occupations in closely related fields. The suggested approach provides needed instruction while minimizing the effects of market volatility and job uncertainty. Examples and options are provided for selected occupations across the solar industry value chain, and advantages to key stakeholder groups will be noted. The approach presented is complementary to the Solar Career Map developed by Dr. Sarah White and IREC’s best practices document entitled Solar Content Integration. Watch the replay.

October 2: Solar Content Integration: A North Carolina Case Study

In building the solar workforce, is it better to educate and train solar specialists or integrate solar knowledge and add-on skills to existing curricula? That’s the question Andrew McMahan, Energy Sector Director at Central Carolina Community College, addressed, based on his experience as the North Carolina Community College System’s lead college for its Code Green Super Curriculum Improvement Project (CIP). In this free webinar, Andy talked about the Code Green Super CIP, a North Carolina statewide initiative which has been developing improvements in curriculum and continuing education green programs in five sectors: energy, transportation, engineering technology, environment and building. The curricula integrates renewable energy training and workforce development into  existing vocational programs at all 58 community colleges across North Carolina. Andy shared his experiences integrating renewable energy curricula into existing training programs.  Watch the replay.

September 5: U.S. Solar Market Trends for FY 2011

Despite some high-profile negative news stories about solar in 2011, solar markets are booming in the United States, says Larry Sherwood, President of Sherwood Associates, and author of the 2011 US Solar Market Trends Report from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. Falling photovoltaic prices, strong consumer demand, and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities meant that twice as much photovoltaic solar was installed in 2011, as was installed in 2010. Now in its fifth year in this annual report from IREC, Sherwood compiles and analyzes public data on U.S. solar installations by technology, state and market sector for 2011. It covers solar technologies that produce electricity, including photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). Watch the replay

April 18: PV ValueTM Real Estate Tool

Geoff Klise from Sandia National Laboratories, and Jamie Johnson from Solar Power Electric discussed the recently released PV ValueTM spreadsheet tool developed for the appraisal and real estate industries to aid in making a market value determination for residential and commercial solar PV systems. PV ValueTM uses an income capitalization approach to determine the capitalized value which is the present value of the energy produced during the power production warranty lifetime. This tool has been formally endorsed by the Appraisal Institute and is being used to educate appraisers on how to value a solar pV system as part of a real estate transaction. Funding for developing PV ValueTM initiated with DOE EERE for a Solar America Communities project and is now being funded as a market transformation activity under the SunShot Initiative. Watch the replay.

March 22: The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) — an overview

Established in 1995, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. DSIRE contains in­formation on over 2,700 renewable energy and energy efficiency pro­grams and is visited by more than 180,000 unique users per month. DSIRE is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In this webinar, DSIRE Senior Policy Analyst, Brian Lips, gave an overview of the database and its functionality, including DSIRE SOLAR which provides solar-specific policy information for both PV and solar thermal. Brian also discussed solar policies and markets, and explained why some states have solar markets and why some don’t. Brian Lips has worked for the North Carolina Solar Center since 2006, and began working on as a Policy Analyst in 2007. His current work involves researching and summarizing policies and incentives adopted by seven western states and North Carolina. Watch the replay.

January 25: Solar ABCs — an overview

The Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) was formed to identify current issues, establish a dialogue among key stakeholders, and catalyze appropriate activities to support the centralized development of PV systems codes and standards. The overarching goal of the Solar ABCs is to facilitate and accelerate the installation of high quality, safe PV systems. This program also provides access for PV manufacturers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators of a particular PV material, product, process or service to sponsor PV codes and standards research studies to help foster the acceleration of the PV market. In this webinar, Solar ABCs Project Administrator, Larry Sherwood, gave an overview of the program and talked about current codes and standards issues including preventing fires, ensuring firefighter safety, making sure the power rating is as labeled, and creating good permitting and inspection practices. Watch the replay.


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