Over the next 10 years, Florida utilities will have to produce 75
billion more kilowatt-hours than the current level of energy output
to accommodate the future electric energy needs of the state. At the
same time, Governor Charlie Crist has issued three executive orders
on energy usage and climate change.
Based on these needs and concerns, a statewide training
program for alternative energy technologies, called the Alternative
Energy Banner Center, has been initiated by Workforce Florida, Inc.
In February 2008, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) was awarded
a contract from Workforce Florida to establish and lead this training
center along with six other Florida partners. The goal of the Alternative
Energy Banner Center is to make alternative energy training available
for students throughout Florida.
In general, alternative energy technology is an educational area
in which existing curriculum and educational programs are limited
in Florida and in the United States. There are some educational organizations
throughout the U.S. that offer courses and workshops in alternative
energy, but since this training is not routinely available at traditional
vocational schools, community colleges or universities – nor
is it designed for workforce deployment – there is a need for
this new Banner Center.
This educational program will offer two core programs in photovoltaic
(solar electricity) and solar thermal (solar hot water and pool heating)
technology. Both programs are designed for all students, regardless
of skill level. The results from the initial program offerings will
be analyzed and used as feedback to update and finalize the curriculum.
After the first year, the plan will be expanded and offered throughout
Florida at other community colleges and technical centers. The initial
curriculum program for these two areas will utilize existing resources,
but will expand depending on response from industry and partner feedback.
FSEC’s educational partners for this training program – Brevard
Community College in Cocoa, Westside Tech in Orlando, Tallahassee
Community College in Tallahassee, and Broward Community College in
Ft. Lauderdale – cover the majority of Florida’s most
populated areas. The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA)
and selected members from Florida’s utility and solar industries
will supply the project’s business affiliations. The Brevard
Workforce Board is also a partner to this program.