Renewable energy courses guide

Since we last ran our renewable energy courses guide in Renew 137 in 2016, there’s been an expansion of course offerings in both scope and sophistication. “We’ve seen a lot of maturing in practice, product and professionalism,” says Israel Vogel from SkillsTech at the Eagle Farm Campus of Queensland TAFE, where the majority of solar-related trade instruction is delivered for that state.

Vocational Education and Training

TAFE institutes and private RTOs (registered training organisations) are continuing to meet the challenge of training the technical trades in renewable energy. CEC-accredited courses in design, installation and maintenance of grid-connected or standalone solar systems are now readily available at RTOs in many urban centres. Battery storage system design and installation courses are beginning to become very popular, meeting enthusiastic demand among domestic rooftop and small-to-medium business customers. Micro-wind is now also beginning to appear on the training landscape, with courses that meet CEC requirements.

Large-scale boom

Larger-scale installations for renewable energy generation are driving change.

Wind energy has seen unprecedented growth in recent years in large-scale generation. The Clean Energy Council’s Clean Energy Australia 2018 report found that the generation capacity of Australia’s wind industry had risen from 34 MW in 2014 to 4816 MW by December 2017, with 15 new projects in the pipeline at that time. Education offerings are beginning to ramp up too, with at least two RTOs offering courses that are accredited by the Global Wind Organisation for large-scale wind energy.

One of those is the Canberra Institute of Technology, whose graduates support the renewables industry well beyond the traditional, with skills like safety management,  blade repair and technical assistance. “I believe renewables is a window to the future,” says Anita Wesney, director of Trade Skills and Vocational Learning at CIT, adding, “you could spend a lifetime in a range of roles in the industry.”

University-level study

Universities around Australia continue to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses of study, specialising in renewable energy, or electrical and mechanical engineering. Some universities are offering degrees that don’t require an engineering qualification, providing an option for students from varied undergraduate disciplines. Industry work experience is sometimes offered with university-level study.

Professional development

Professional development units and short courses in renewable energy can offer ways for those established in other industries to build their knowledge and skills in a renewable direction. Among the University of Wollongong’s offerings are two CPD (continuing professional development) units. “The CPD units are designed to meet the needs of a more informed audience,” says Dr. Duane Robinson, senior lecturer in the university’s school of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering, such as those managers or utility specialists wanting to advise clients on renewable energy integration issues and network design and construction.

Something for nearly everyone

In the digital age, options are expanding in innovative ways, to educate the general public and to reach prospective students in remote locations. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) continue to be an option for anyone, with cost-effective or free courses giving an introduction to renewable energy. Coursera is a popular platform, offering several courses in renewable energy at the time of writing this article, as are FutureLearn and edX. GSES also delivers some of its course material through an app, GSES+.

Table of courses

We’ve contacted institutions for their course offerings. Download the table to help you find the right course for you.

About the author
Kellie Flanagan is a writer, editor and perennial student who is a happy consumer of domestic-scale renewables.
This article was first published in Issue 145 (Oct-Dec 2018) of Renew magazine. Issue 145 has saving water as its focus.
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