The Solar Digest for Solar Power, Solar Energy and Photovoltaic PV News - Installation

Solar Panel Scheme Boosts Nottingham's Green Skills Credentials

n one of the single largest domestic photovoltaic (PV) schemes to be delivered in the UK, the installation of solar panels to 592 council homes in Aspley further cements Nottingham's reputation as the UK's most energy self-sufficient city.

This large scale energy infrastructure project has delivered significant energy savings for the residents of the 592 homes, estimated to total up to £72,000 per year¹. During its seven-month run the project has also been responsible for bringing valuable green skills training and work experience opportunities to Nottingham job seekers, helping to boost their prospects of securing work.

These included:

- One day training placements for 10 trainee electricians at E.ON's Engineering Academy focusing on working at heights and manual handling.
- A week's work experience for all trainees at the project site in Aspley, learning how to install the solar panels, and putting their training to good use.
- Four of the trainees volunteered for a longer period of work experience on the project.

Taking part in free training sessions and work experience on site at Aspley, the Nottingham-based trainees, aged between 20 and 55, enjoyed interaction and access to experienced operators and specialists in the energy field, while gaining invaluable on-the-job training to develop essential skills for working in the renewable energy sector. In all, the scheme provided over 700 hours' work experience and 75 hours' worth of training time for the 10 participants.

Tim Lowe, 19, from Nottingham took part in the training course to boost his working knowledge after earning an electrician's qualification at college. He said: "Since completing my college course I've found it difficult to find work or an apprenticeship. While I'm really proud of my qualification, I realised that employers value on-the-job skills - but I was struggling to find opportunities to gain this experience.

"This course has given me the chance to build upon the knowledge I gained at college with real-life working examples. And the best thing is the week's work experience that I'll complete as part of the course, which will help to boost my CV and put me in a better position for job opportunities."

Thomas Buss, Head of Microgeneration at E.ON's Sustainable Energy business, said: "This project has been a great success, not only for the residents who are set to benefit from lower bills, but for the trainee electricians who have experienced first-hand what it's like to work in the fast-growing sustainable energy sector. The skills and knowledge they've acquired will equip them for new employment opportunities and provide Nottingham with the skilled workers it needs to support its renewable energy future."

"Nottingham is a great example of a city working hard to build its sustainable energy provision by boosting the local workforce, and we're pleased to be able to partner with the city council to provide the training and experience that will enable local people to contribute positively to the city and the region's economy."

Nottingham City Council's Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability, commented: "We have ensured that this large-scale infrastructure project has boosted the city's economy by providing training opportunities for local people.

"It's great that we've been able to equip our local electricians with the skills, knowledge and practical experience they need so that they're ready for work. We are now supporting the group of trainees to find permanent jobs and are speaking to various partners who may be able to provide work suitable longer term employment opportunities.

"We are concerned about the proposed changes to the Feed in Tariffs being considered by Government as this could have serious consequences for a number of energy projects being delivered in Nottingham that aim to increase energy security, reduce energy bills, create jobs and reduce carbon emissions."

¹ £120 per home per year, based on the installation of a 1.88kW to 2.35kW solar photovoltaic system fitted to a south-facing roof exposed to average UK weather conditions on an assumed tariff rate of 13.3p/kWh.


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