The New Energy Technology Systems (NETS) course, which was piloted this year, has one clear goal – to strengthen the solar battery industry with qualified, expert solar battery installers and designers.
Electrical business owner Chris Gratton, 26, is one such expert. With a couple of years of solar experience under his belt, he recognised the potential to upskill within the growing solar battery market.
“I got into solar because I saw it as an involving industry with long-term work ahead of it. It’s new, with plenty to offer.
I like the idea of having control of my own energy and being sustainable – and clearly my customers do too. The sun is available every day and it could be utilised better. It’s not just solar panels that provides opportunities, it’s solar batteries as well. You don’t just gain the energy, you can also store it and use it later with solar batteries, which is pretty incredible. It’s beneficial to all users!”
While Chris had the required accreditation and training to install solar panel systems, he needed to upskill to install batteries too.
“My business partner has all the accreditations, so I could install solar batteries under his supervision. But it was important that I had the training and qualifications too. I wanted to make sure I could keep the ball rolling when my partner wasn’t around, and offer a greater variety of services to our customers.
After researching solar battery installation accreditations, it was an opportune phone call with his past TAFE teacher that introduced him to the NETS course.
“It had been years since we had spoken. He asked me what I was up to and I told him about our electrical business, and how we were picking up a lot more solar. He mentioned that TAFE Gippsland is doing a pilot course on batteries, that is subsidised by the government. It was a great opportunity, so I enrolled, and I’m very pleased I did.”
Chris explains the highlight of the course was the real-life, practical content.
“The information was so realistic. The brands and products I deal with at work, or see being used in the industry, were the products and spec sheets we were using in class. I love having knowledge grow off the back of what I am familiar with.
Beyond theory, the practical work also matched what we used with in class. We would physically wire up the components. And we always knew that we were compliant, because it’s through the course, and regulations were being met.”
With the qualification up his sleeve, Chris has more confidence in managing his business and dealing with his customers.
“I’m now a lot more aware of different products and what their roles are, which means I can now offer my customers the right product at the right price, without overkilling or undercutting myself.
Chris is now accredited by the Clean Energy Council to design and install solar batteries for his customers, safely and effectively. For him, this is the necessary future for all electricians because engaging an accredited installer gives customers peace of mind.
“I think the future is batteries and solar. I’m finding a lot of our work now involves both solar and electrical. We’re not just doing an electrical installation for a new school – we’re also adding a solar system.
Having this certification and licensing means I have the competency and confidence to do this work, widening my skillset to cater for not just one line of work, but all of it. And a lot of the work is involving renewable energy.”
If you’re an expert electrician with qualifications in solar PV, it might be time for you to upskill in solar battery design and installation too.