Renewable Energy Careers Windsor

PROFILE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY CAREERS WINDSORECTOR

The rapidly evolving renewable energy industry has been supported by the Province of Ontario’s energy policy. Ontario has set itself apart from other jurisdictions, as it focuses on transforming energy policy to include renewable as part of its energy generation mix. The introduction of the Ontario Green Energy Act in 2009 was part of a significant movement towards boosting investment in renewable energy projects and focusing on the creation of green jobs and economic growth in Ontario.

A growing economic cluster has been evolving in the region with over a dozen renewable energy companies starting operations locally, and several machine, tool, die and mold companies supplying the industry. Windsor-Essex has been successful in attracting these businesses due to its high caliber workforce and expertise in manufacturing. To further enhance the attractiveness of the region’s supply of labor, Workforce WindsorEssex identified the need to conduct a skills gap analysis. This analysis would provide a deeper understanding of the skills required by renewable energy companies locating in Windsor-Essex, and the skills of the existing labor force. Given the number of manufacturing jobs lost in the region, what are the opportunities for transitioning the workforce from the auto industry into the renewable energy industry?

The solar energy sector has been rapidly evolving in Ontario. Research has found no standard or consistent use of occupational titles or specific required education and skills for occupations within this sector. Types of educational requirements vary with occupation skill level but can include a university degree, college diploma or trade certification. Types of skills or knowledge requirements can include: solar theory, power systems, project management, electrical (i.e. direct current (DC), alternating current (AC)), mechanical, structural, environmental assessment and general “system” awareness. Some solar energy related occupations build on the skills and education of traditional manufacturing occupations, but require additional knowledge and skills related to solar.

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Average Educational Attainment:

  • Apprenticeship
  • College Diploma
  • University Degree

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Sector Strengths & Opportunities

Skills required within the renewable energy sector are very similar to those in manufacturing;    therefore individuals with a manufacturing background have the transferable skills necessary to enter into the renewable energy sector

The companies in Windsor-­‐Essex are innovative in their approach to manufacturing and creating products for energy production. The renewable energy sector is relatively new in Windsor-­‐Essex and  therefore  there  is  potential  for  considerable  growth  as  the demand for alternative energy sources increases.

Advancement

Attain the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Associate certification which demonstrates competence and professional integrity.

Employment Demand

  • According to the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA), there are not enough skilled Solar PV technicians to meet the demand of the industry.
  • Solar PV jobs are the fastest growing occupation in the renewable energy industry; therefore labour shortages are expected to become increasingly widespread.

Current Job Availability

  • Each solar energy project, from conception to installation, requires the services of many technicians with various skills.

Average Wage

  • Solar PV systems technicians make between $16 to $27.50 per hour.
  • Although certification is not required for this occupation, those with the right training and education will have a higher income.

Labour Market Information [Source: Canadian Solar Industry Association]

It is expected that by 2025, the solar photovoltaic segment alone could meet 10% of Canada’s new electricity requirements. Globally, Canada has joined the 13 countries that are experiencing annual domestic demand of over 5 MW of solar power energy and ranks 11th in the world in terms of annual demand for solar power.

From 1998 to 2007, the photovoltaic segment experienced an average annual compounded growth rate of 19% in terms of installed PV power in MW. From 2006 to 2007 alone, Canada demonstrated a growth of 26% in total PV power installed.

Cost Reduction and Employment on the Rise

In addition to growth, the health of an industry is measured in terms of its cost competitiveness. The PV industry in Canada has shown declines in the weighted average costs of producing solar powered energy. The solar power industry has witnessed an average annual cost reduction of about 9.6% from 1998 to 2007. Solar companies expect the costs to be reduced by 50% by 2025. Such large reductions in cost will help solar companies to compete with other types of energy producers such as fossil fuel companies. Reduced costs will result in more demand for solar energy in Canada, and more job opportunities for PV technicians.

Shortage of Qualified Solar PV Technicians

The growth of employment in the PV-related organizations in Canada should parallel the growth of the PV industry. Also, greater specialization and training will be required to compete globally. It is expected that the current number of qualified personnel within the industry will not be sufficient to meet the growing demands of the industry. The PV segment like other clean energy sectors will require training and education of a new group of clean energy personnel ready to meet the different skill needs of the industry. Therefore, students who acquire an education in solar PV technology are securing themselves a career that is in high demand and full of opportunities for advancement.

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LOCAL AVAILABLE TRAINING

Canadian College Health Science Technology (Featured Program)

  • Solar Technician

University of Windsor

  • Energy Management Course

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