NGRE Helps College with Facility to Train Future PV Installers

October 14, 2023 by Greg Bishop

NGRE has joined forces with Abingdon & Witney College to create a new facility which will train the next generation of PV installers and help plug the green technology skills gap.

Experts in renewable solutions, NGRE, installed solar panels on a mocked-up domestic pitched-roof, creating a solar PV training rig at the College’s Renewable Technology Suite, part of it’s Net Zero Skills Hub.

Training Future PV Installers

The new facility will be used to train the College’s apprentices, and other learners, in the installation of PV solar systems, providing vital practical experience with the technology they will be working with in the future.

The new PV solar training rig will sit alongside other green technology at the Hub including a solar thermal system, a range of heat pumps, a rainwater harvesting system, and soon to be installed, insulation and ventilation demonstration and training area.

Passionate About Training Next Generation

Managing Director of NGRE, Greg Bishop, said: “I’m really passionate about using our wealth of experience in developing the next generation of PV installers particularly as our industry grows and the need for more skilled professionals increases.

“The idea is that they can get their students to see and interact with the equipment up-close rather than just looking at a Powerpoint. They can take it apart, test the solar DC strings and look at how the bracket system works.

“It’s been a real pleasure to be involved with the setting up of this training facility with the College.”

College Keen to Get NGRE Involved

Mark French, Head of Bicester Construction Skills Centre, said: “After meeting at an open event, we were immediately impressed by the passion shown by Greg towards upskilling existing tradespeople to install PV equipment.

“Greg was keen to understand how he could help, and we were keen to get him involved in our centre. NGRE kindly donated and installed the equipment for free and have offered to talk to our students in the future. We look forward to working with NGRE and Greg further.”

Real Systems – Hands-On Learning

Mark added: ““Hands-on” learning underpins our entire approach to teaching.  All our students get the opportunity to learn using real systems, rather than just learning the theory.  This means they can hit the ground running when they carry out work in a commercial environment for their customers. The PV installation is a great example of the high-quality equipment that we use to support skills development.”

Net Zero Skills Hub

Mark said: “The College’s Net Zero Skills hub has been created to provide a unique training facility for Oxfordshire.  Supporting apprentices, full time students and existing tradespeople to develop their skills in sustainable energy, the centre is based around the principle of using real life equipment to deliver training of the very highest quality. As the Hub continues to develop, we are adding a number of courses to our offer all the time.”

Industry Needs Investment in People

Greg said: “The College’s Net Zero Skills Hub is exactly the type of facility that the renewable energy sector needs and so we are pleased to be a part of it. It is vital that the rapid growth we are seeing in the industry is matched by investment in the people who will be installing the equipment.”

Data from the official standards body for renewable technologies, MSC, shows that there are now more than 20,000 solar panel installations per month driven by energy price instability and the Government’s ambitious plans to increase ground-mounted and rooftop solar capacity fivefold to 70GW by 2035.

PV Skills Gap

Greg said: “I definitely think there’s a real skills shortage in the industry and it will be a problem going forward. We need the right type of courses and skills and Abingdon & Witney College are obviously taking that seriously with the provision of these facilities. We’ll take a keen interest in how the facilities and courses develop.”

Net Zero Courses

The Hub’s current offering includes An Introduction to PV (Photovoltaic), as well as courses in environmental technologies awareness, rainwater harvesting, solar thermal, heat pumps, and electric/hybrid vehicle maintenance and repairs.

Alongside the College’s apprenticeships and full-time courses, it also offers introductory day courses, week-long conversion courses and top-up courses for already qualified gas engineers looking to upskill. It also provides training for full time students (aged 16+) who have just left school, adults wanting to expand their knowledge, and professionals looking to expand their services.

For more information about Abingdon & Witney College.

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NGRE specialise in the supply of the latest renewable energy solutions for homeowners, architects, builders, businesses and community projects in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and have more than 10 years’ experience.

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NGRE supply and install a range of products including Viridian Clearline Fusion, REC solar panels, BIPVco Flextron, SolarEdge battery storage systems and EV charging systems, GivEnergy battery storage systems, and Zappi EV charging systems.