May 11, 2020Green Jobs Case Study: Thompson Rivers University’s Renewable Energy Fundamentals for Electricians

Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC) Green Jobs Program supports companies providing youth with work experience and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions in the green economy. The program is funded through Natural Resources Canada’s Science and Technology Internship Program (STIP) and provides additional incentives and funding for work in northern, rural and remote communities, as we recognize the opportunity for growth and impact is high in these communities.

While the Green Jobs Program has had a substantial impact supporting youth in the green economy, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in British Columbia has applied the program in an especially innovative and impactful way by developing and launching the Renewable Energy Fundamentals (REF) for Electricians pilot program. REF for Electricians supports TRU’s existing Electrical Foundations program by providing a wide range of training and experience in renewable energy. This includes:

  • Safety, resources and efficiencies
  • Generation methods, including:
    • Solar (PV & Thermal)
    • Wind
    • Biomass
    • Fuel Cells
    • Hydro
  • System components, including:
    • Storage
    • Inverters
    • Charge controllers
  • System design and installation
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Code compliances

While at TRU, I decided to put my best foot forward by getting involved in renewable energy opportunities. The program not only talks about solar, but also other various types of energy generation projects, while also exploring and explaining net energy principles hand-in-hand with the principle of sustainability. I hope to place into established organizations that perform energy engineering roles in the industry.

Gordon P., REF for Electricians participant

The academic design of this program is strong, but the implementation is truly impressive. TRU is working with local renewable energy contractor Riverside Energy Systems (RES) to facilitate participants working on a legacy project (the installation of a 36-module solar array that had to be removed from a rooftop to facilitate repairs, allowing participants to re-install in a more ideal location on TRU’s campus). They have also arranged to have RES’ senior manager (a former TRU electronics instructor) review and advise on the online and practical curriculum content and provide feedback. As a result, participants are gaining diverse and cutting-edge knowledge, acquiring first-hand experience in applying it, and contributing to a substantial renewable energy project.

While the current COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting education and operations across Canada, TRU has shifted their REF for Electricians program online. Participants are keen to continue the program and put their education into practice.

 

Prior to enrolling in the Electrical Foundation course at TRU, I had worked for a number of years in northern Alberta in the oilsands. Upon completion of my traditional electrical training, I likely would have returned to the fossil fuel industry as this is what was familiar to me and where my work experience had been gained.

I knew very little about renewable energy or career opportunities in this area available to those in the electrical field. Now that there is instruction being offered to TRU students in renewable energy, my thinking about career options has changed and been expanded.

Upon completion of the upcoming renewable energy course I plan on applying for jobs in this field, something that would not have occurred to me to do previously.

Richard G., REF for Electricians participant

Renewable energy makes up a growing part of Canada’s energy mix, and it will continue to grow in the coming years. By leveraging the funding and supports from the Green Jobs Program, TRU has developed an exceptional training program that equips eager electricians with the skills they need to create and maintain renewable energy projects in British Columbia and beyond.