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2023 Cook County Solar Training

Cook County Local Energy Project & Cook County Higher Education are partnering with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to facilitate a local PV associate training for our community. This training/credential is intended for people working in or seeking employment in the solar industry. This credential is ideal for high school students, students in renewable energy programs, workers at an early stage in their solar career, professionals who have just begun to offer solar products or services as part of their business, or those who are seeking a job in the renewable energy sector. There are incredible new career options in the solar industry, which is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Dive into some details about the courses for the PV Associate Pathway training below. If you are curious and have questions, we want to hear from you! Reach out to CCLEP or CCHE and we can also discuss scholarship opportunities for the training. 

To earn your NABCEP PV Associate Credential through the MREA, you will be required to complete a minimum of three courses that are available online any time or through our Solar Training Academies starting in January 2022.

Once you have successfully completed these three courses, you are eligible to take the NABCEP PV Associate Exam. This exam is available year-round as a computer-based test both in your home or at a Scantron-approved testing facility (CCHE in Grand Marais)

What is a Photovoltaic Associate Credential (PVA): This is a first-level achievement that demonstrates your knowledge of fundamental principles of design, installation, and operation of Photovoltaic energy systems.

What is NABCEP? North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PVA Credential Progression:

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Basic Photovoltaics (PV 101) - Online (Roughly 1 Month)
This 8-hour course uses a combination of lecture and classroom activities to teach the basics of photovoltaic (PV) systems. Participants will learn how PV systems work, diagram the four PV system types, describe, and identify components, understand the best application and limitations of each system type, define the solar window, make energy efficiency recommendations, estimate system loads, and understand the basics of PV site assessment.

PV Site Assessment (PV 201) - Online (Roughly 1 Month)
This 8-hour course uses classroom discussion, exercises, and activities to demonstrate how to perform a PV site assessment for a home or small business. Students are provided with the MREA PV Site Assessment Report Template and the MREA’s PV Cost Modeling tool. Topics covered in this course include load profiles and consumption history, energy efficiency and fuel switching opportunities, site-specific shade analysis, array and balance of system location recommendation parameters, and client financing options. Participants will learn how to access and use online tools for assessing solar resources, perform site-specific PV system sizing, determine energy production of a recommended PV system size, estimate system costs, and evaluate existing infrastructure on the site.

PV System Design (PV 202) - Online (Roughly 1 Month)
This 16-hour course uses a series of presentations, exercises, calculators, and tools to teach the basic step-by-step process of designing a utility-interactive residential (or small commercial) PV system. Participants will use site assessments, manufacturer specification sheets, and case studies to learn about selecting appropriate equipment, sizing a PV system, planning the physical layout, and calculating electrical values of voltage, current, power, and energy.

Working with Electricity (G 108) - In Person in Cook County
This eight-hour course provides participants with fundamental terms and concepts to better understand how electrical circuits work, and how to stay safe when working with or near electricity. Also includes hands-on labs to reinforce and solidify the learning objectives of the course.

PV Labs & Design Scenarios (PV 304) - In Person in Cook County
This eight-hour course is designed to demonstrate PV system design principles through the construction of two portable lab systems. Participants will work from line diagrams and component specification sheets to build a grid- interconnected PV system and a battery-based PV system. After assembly, students will verify proper mechanical and electrical connections and commission each system. In addition, students will work in small teams to develop PV system designs that meet site analysis, system sizing, and configuration requirements given in several design scenarios.


NABCEP PV Associate Exam - In Person in Cook County
The NABCEP Associate Program is a credential program intended for people who are currently working in – or seeking employment in – the renewable energy industry, including: students in renewable energy programs, workers at an early stage in their renewable energy career, experienced professionals who have just begun offering renewable energy products or services, or those in renewable energy jobs for which there is no professional certification. As a Registered NABCEP Associate Provider for PV, the MREA delivers training that covers NABCEP PV Associate Job Task Analysis. Individuals interested in the NABCEP Associate Program should review the NABCEP Associate Handbook.


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