Solar Energy International Expands Global Footprint #SPI2018

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Solar professional training and certification experts Solar Energy International is rapidly expanding its global footprint in an effort to bring more standardization to the process of installing and maintaining photovoltaic solar power systems.

From its base in Paonia, CO, SEI recently opened training centers in Costa Rica and Oman, says Marla Korpar, the development director for the organization. Two additional centers are planned, at as-yet unselected locations in Latin America and Africa, she says. Korpar made the comments at the recent Solar Power International trade show held in Anaheim.

The Costa Rica center work began in July in Cartago province, with SEI’s first International Solar Training Center being brought to fruition through a partnership with CFIA (Federated College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica) and CIEMI (College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers).

The Solar Training Center SEI-CFIA is located outside of San Juan in the province of Cartago, Costa Rica, inside the facilities of CFIA’s Integral Training Center Uxarrací.

“This new training facility will accelerate and expand access to world-class solar training to Spanish speakers throughout Latin America, building a strong solar industry in the region with qualified workforce in line with SEI’s vision of a world powered by renewable energy,” the organization says. Since the beginning of SEI’s Spanish Program in 2013, SEI has trained over 9,000 Spanish speakers, empowering Latin Americans with solar education, which has increased energy access for their communities, SEI says.

The center is equipped with tools to construct, commission, and test solar electric arrays. It has 3 solar PV systems installed in compliance with the US National Electrical Code (NEC), which allows students to learn about the most up-to-date design and safety parameters. The systems are composed of leading technologies and popular products available internationally for students to build and wire photovoltaic arrays from the roof up.

Marco Calvo, the president of the CIEMI board of directors, says, “By partnering with SEI, we are fulfilling the responsibility to offer our community the security that things are being done as they should, with high quality professional standards. From CIEMI we seek to offer solutions to the professionals of the solar industry so that they are able to build efficient, safe and reliable installations. The solar industry is growing in Costa Rica and in Latin America, and we want our workforce to be prepared to occupy the new jobs that the sector generates. We trust in the trajectory of SEI and the quality of its instructors to provide qualified education.”

SEI states that its commitment is to bring the highest level of safety and training to Latin America, so the center is constructed in compliance with OSHA regulations, modeling the safest possible working environment for the students’ learning experience. Equipment to teach the safest procedures, such as harnesses, electric insulating gloves, helmets, and protective glasses are available and required for all students.

“The Costa Rica campus is an invaluable opportunity for SEI to bring high quality PV education to a growing Latin American market,” says Matthew Harris, SEI’s director of LatAm Business Development Director. “Over 26 years of time-tested and evolving techniques stand behind SEI’s academic and hands-on curriculum. It is SEI’s mission to bring solar electricity to people around the world empowering people, business and communities,” he says.

Non-profit SEI, a 501(c)(3) entity, has conducted training sessions in Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, South Africa, Palestine, Kazakhstan, the Solomon Islands, and Pakistan, the group indicates. Operating since 1991 with over 60,000 professionals trained, SEI has a Spanish language program both in residence and online. The group provides scholarships and provides special access for US veterans and active duty personnel.

SEI staff have delivered services to the Pan American Health Organizations, Non-Governmental development organizations (NGOs), foreign, national, and state governments, universities, and individuals seeking the benefits of renewable energy, the group indicates.

In addition to the geographic growth, SEI recently has broadened its curriculum focus to include microgrids, Korpar notes. Solar thermal and micro hydro training are other training areas already part of the base curriculum.

SEI’s training and certification activities are recognized by both IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and NABCEP, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Apart from training and certifying solar professionals, SEI maintains a job board — for alumni only — to help employers find qualified employees, and help job seekers find opportunities in the solar industry.

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Charles W. Thurston

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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