In 2008, the solar thermal industry in the United States underwent a period of unprecedented growth. The Great Recession caused the economic situation to worsen in 2009, lowering consumer spending as well as decreasing the demand in the solar thermal industry. Slowly in 2010, the solar thermal industry began to recuperate and experienced an optimistic growth in which solar thermal installations began to increase in popularity. Consumers began realizing that solar thermal installations are a highly efficient technology that greatly improve the return on investment and may increase the value of their property.
A new innovation in the solar thermal industry that caught consumers' attention is the growing trend towards combination solar hot water and home heating systems. These systems are custom-made and require knowledgeable system designers and installers.
Heating and hot water are the largest consumers of energy in a residential home. The combination solar hot water and home heating systems help reduce a home's energy use and reduce costs, but the combination systems are difficult to design and install since each home has a different range of needs. Installers often face challenges integrating equipment into an efficient solar thermal combination system for homes.
"Unfamiliarity with these components or system design increases the time required to build a project and contributes to the overall costs hurting the customer's return on investment and potentially jeopardizing the project completely," said Nigel Rudell, vice president of operations at Apricus Inc., and Eric Skiba, technical engineer at Apricus Inc. Therefore, the solar thermal industry requires a well-trained workforce to take on the challenges of design and installation.
As the solar thermal industry grows, it is important that workers receive on-site solar training in order to make the combination solar hot water and home heating systems efficient. The benefits of being trained at a solar training school
outweigh its costs, and creates a workforce that is ready to take on the challenges of solar installation and design. The solar thermal industry requires workers to have attended solar installation courses in order to be considered as having the qualifications needed towards executing the job correctly.
"As demand for these systems increases, a lack of knowledgeable installers could hamper market growth, creating a niche market of installers. Training sessions will help grow a network of competent installers capable of designing and installing these systems, meeting anticipated industry growth," continued Rudell and Skiba. "To help achieve market acceptance, the entire industry must put an emphasis on providing adequate solutions and training so that distributors and their installers have access to materials and products that allow them to design a system with confidence."
It is imperative that the renewable energy workforce of the 21st century has the motivation to receive solar installation certification because combination solar hot water and home heating systems is a difficult task to take on. With the right solar training, efficient systems will be installed quicker and at a lower cost, allowing to achieve the goal of more solar thermal installations on homes.