IRENA and Arizona State University develop certification programme for solar technicians in West Africa


 IRENA and Arizona State University develop certification programme for solar technicians in West Africa  (Photo taken in the Republic of Fiji in a similar certification programme) 

Abu Dhabi, UAE and Mesa, Arizona, USA, 11 March 2014: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Arizona State University (ASU) signed an agreement this week to develop a solar certification programme for West Africa. The two institutions have teamed up to develop certification programmes for technicians of off-grid as well as grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems in West Africa. The programme aims to develop workforce capacity for solar PV systems, a fast-growing form of renewable energy with excellent potential for providing energy security and economic development in the region.

“West Africa needs more skilled technicians to accelerate the deployment of solar PV, and it is part of IRENA’s mission to encourage this through knowledge sharing, provision of expertise and international cooperation,” said Gauri Singh, Director of IRENA’s Country Support and Partnerships division. “Our collaboration with ASU supports this effort by providing a standard for excellence in the sector. This will help West African countries to reap the benefits of solar power.”

The certification of technicians improves the confidence of customers in the renewable energy industry and the skills of the technicians who implement them. It supports the employability of the technicians by providing them with recognised skill levels.

“ASU is a worldwide leader in PV solar research, power-grid management and sustainability,” said Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. “We are excited to be collaborating with IRENA to share our expertise and help build the local technical capacity in West Africa.”

The IRENA and ASU collaboration includes one or two-day workshops in selected countries in West Africa and key stakeholders will be engaged to participate as a means to garnering political and policy level support for the initiative. Stakeholders include certifying agencies, national and regional training institutions, government agencies, training providers, utility companies and regulatory authorities.

“Establishing human competency standards followed by appropriate training and certification is essential to the success of renewable energy efforts in the developing countries, and ASU welcomes IRENA as the sponsoring collaborator in helping organise this effort,” said Anshuman Razdan, professor in engineering and computing systems at ASU and principal investigator of the collaboration.

The initiative sees national and regional technical committees set up to guide and oversee the development of technical competency standards. The project also establishes technical guidelines for the solar energy technology training programs for each level of certification.