Why is the GREEN course Commercial size PV Systems worthwhile?
Interview with Andre Wagener
Andre Wagener is an electrician, a company owner, an active member of the Electrical Contractors Association and a GREEN alumni. One year ago he did his first training with GREEN, the SuperSolarSchool, in September 2020 he completed the SAPVIA PV assessment and joined the Solar Power Designer Commercial course. But why all these trainings and especially the course on commercial PV systems?
Last week Antje, Tsakani and Andre had a ZOOM conference call in which we could ask Andre about his motives.
What is your company doing today?
GPA Electrical Contractors (PTY) Ltd.used to be an event power management and generator hire company. The company has been doing events for 20 years. Hiring to events that had over 40-50 thousand people. I am an electrician by trade and 2019 the company decided to expand their brand and go back to electrical.
First we have done a couple of backup systems, but we quickly recognised that we have to install PV onto that. But before doing the installations, I wanted to have the knowledge on how to do that exactly.
And when I see how everything developed now with Covid, it was the best idea we had to focus more on the electrical side and not only depend on the event business.
Why did you register for the Solar Power Designer course?
I am new in the industry and I wanted to further my knowledge. The SuperSolarSchool with its focus on Basics and Installation gave me what I needed to start in the industry and the more I go into PV and I understood the installation as the complexity it is, and the more I learned the more I realized what I still have to learn.
The more I learned the more I realized what I still have to learn.
I wanted to learn how to design and implement commercial PV systems, not only to design them myself, but also to understand the design of the engineers I am working with. I don’t want to rely on other companies to do the design for me, especially, when I have not the knowledge to understand what they do and identify errors.
I don’t want to rely on other companies to do the design for me.
What did you expect from the course?
Basically, furthering my knowledge, to build up on what I learned during the SuperSolarSchool. The SuperSolarSchool was very hands-on and gave me a good insight in the PV industry, but I wanted to learn how to design bigger grid-tied PV systems or commercial PV systems.
What was most surprising of all the new things you learnt?
I never used a design software and thus I really enjoyed to work with the Valentin design software PV*SOL. I am quite a BC, before computer, guy and I am used to do calculations with a pen and a piece of paper. To learn how to use computer tools with online tutorials is often quite frustrating. But to learn how to design a PV systems with PV*SOL guided by an experienced PV planner really makes a difference.
And I really appreciate the knowledge of the trainers, Marius and Willem are very experienced guys and they know how to engage the participants. They do not stand in front of the class like puppets and teach the same work over and over, they interact, give room for discussions and make sure that everybody can follow the content.
Why should someone who is already doing installations attend this course?
A lot of the times the guys working in PV don’t know half the calculations and they don’t see the risks of an installation which is not properly calculated. A PV installer should understand the design and all involved risks to be able to avoid them. They should understand how to decide which components to use what are the effects of temperature and shading and what codes and legislations applies. And all this one can learn in the PV designer commercial course.
A PV installer should understand the design and all involved risks to be able to avoid them.
I think it’s essential for the installers to learn because, doing the work doesn’t mean you understand or fully comprehend it. I think that training and special certification of the industry is crucial for the PV Industry in general but for PV Installers in particular.
But not only for PV installers, the course is also perfect for engineers. I was sitting in the class with and engineer and he was thrilled about the content and all the knowledge he could gain. I mean only because you are engineer or electrician, this does not mean you know all, especially about photovoltaic.
How did the course bring you and your business forward?
The course enhanced my knowledge. Doing the course allows me to understand what is needed on a bigger commercial PV project compared to residential. Most people think it’s a couple of panels, throw them on the roof and then we go. I wish it was that easy, but it is not, one has to know what he does and this is what I learned in the training and my company will definitely benefit form all what I learned and the new contacts I made.
Doing the course allows me to understand what is needed on a bigger commercial PV project compared to residential.
Andre Wagener is owner at GPA Electrical Contractors (PTY) Ltd. and a member of the ECA(SA) electrical association since 2006 and over the last three or four years he got more involved with the technical committee.