A new organization has been formed in the Keys to promote training of solar installers. Calling itself the Solar Education Association of the Florida Keys, the group will work to create career training for the solar industry in the island chain.
The effort also aims to help educate locals about how to tap which solar power to reduce energy expenditures.
The Florida Keys attract people from all over the world for one primary reason: the plentiful sunshine. The Keys get 259 days of sun, on average, each year. While abundant sunshine makes the Keys a great place to live, it also represents a source of free energy that anyone can access: to generate electricity, heat household water, and even warm swimming pools and spas.
Though some residents have taken advantage of the sun’s energy, many more haven’t. At present, fewer than 100 households out of approximately 15,000 have installed photovoltaic panels on their roof.
One reason for such a small installed base is the low number of solar installers. Fewer than five companies dedicated to selling and putting in place solar panels, solar hot water units, and solar pool heaters are located throughout the Keys.
“We want to work with Florida Keys Community College and local high schools to find the resources, recruit faculty, and develop curricula to teach students the important and necessary skills to enter this ever-expanding field,” said SEA executive director Michael Welber. “Students will need technical competence as well as the business acumen to use it.”
Solar offers real job opportunities to local students. While prices are declining in all solar industries, the number of people employed has skyrocketed. The Solar Foundation reports that jobs in the solar industry grew by 86 percent in the past five years. As of 2013, according to industry estimates, there were 143,000 solar jobs and more than 50,000 in wind in the United States.
Welber added that the Solar Education Association plans to provide information to the public about the advantages of installing solar on their homes. Outlets will include local media, outreach via public presentations, and even energy fairs highlighting the benefits of clean energy.
People interested in learning more about the Solar Education Association of the Florida Keys should go to the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/seaflkeys/.