Energy Department Announces Free Online Training for Residential Solar Inspectors

October 01, 2012

As part of the Energy Department's commitment to invest in skills for American workers, the Department today announced a free online training program for building and electrical code officials who perform inspections for residential photovoltaic (PV) solar energy installations. This training program will help establish a consistent and streamlined PV inspection process in jurisdictions throughout the country, saving time and reducing costs for consumers.

The Photovoltaic Online Training (PVOT) program is designed as an engaging, fast-paced learning tool, using video and photographs to clearly and quickly illustrate correct techniques for safe solar installations that comply with all relevant building and electrical codes.

The PVOT program includes seven online modules, providing lessons in subjects such as roof and ground mounted PV arrays, electrical requirements, equipment ratings, and expedited permitting. The first six lessons contain sequential material that includes onscreen text, video, and voice-over narration. The final module provides a virtual walk along a roofline, similar to what an inspector sees in a real-world situation. The PVOT program tracks each participant's progress and test scores, and meets professional licensing requirements for ongoing education in most cities and states.

While this online training program is geared to code officials, it is also appropriate for solar installers, architects, students, and consumers who are interested in this growing field. The training program curriculum complies with current National Electrical Code requirements, which are referenced along with additional industry standards throughout the modules.

While participation in the course is free, there is a nominal fee for obtaining continuing education units through the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI). Participants who wish to obtain credit are encouraged to check with their local jurisdiction or state to determine if the jurisdiction recognizes IAEI's continuing education units.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council developed the Photovoltaic Online Training program as part of the SunShot Initiative's Solar Instructor Training Network, which aims to strengthen solar PV professional training quality and capacity across the country, providing American workers with the skills and training they need to compete in the global clean energy race. PVOT training modules are hosted on the Department's National Training & Education Resource, an open-source online learning platform.

The PVOT program supports the mission of the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, which aims to deliver cost-competitive solar energy by 2020 while creating workforce development opportunities and driving energy innovation across the United States.