Sun helps college get turned on to Christmas

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  • Joseph Weeks shows off his solar-powered christmas lighting at Bermuda College (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Joseph Weeks shows off his solar-powered christmas lighting at Bermuda College (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda College is enjoying a Christmas display powered entirely by the sun thanks to the instructor of a new course in photovoltaic solar panel installation.

Co-owner of the company Combined Engineering Technologies, Joseph Weeks was brought in to teach the course at the college and he decided to demonstrate the benefits of solar power through the display at the entrance to the building. And it is his hope that even more of the school could eventually be solar-powered.

The college introduced the course which Mr Weeks hopes will help Bermudian electricians gain employment in the growing renewable energy market.

The internationally certified Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) PV Installer One course at the college is being funded by the Department of Workforce Development and is initially being targeted towards certified electricians.

Some 20 certified electricians have already passed through the weeklong course and the college is gearing up to run the second, early in the New Year.

Mr Weeks is keen to lead by example and solar energy is powering the Christmas display at the entrance to the college. Furthermore, he hopes to attract funding in order to install solar panels to power the tech hall at the college.

“I am proposing to solicit for a renewable energy grant to put solar on the tech hall at Bermuda College. I already calculated the design, cost and return on investment. It is just a matter of finding that individual group that is looking to invest in Bermuda so we can build it using the students. We have a real live model to extract data so everyone can see the cost savings and technology.

“You can expect to see the return on investment within seven to nine years. The key is to highlight Bermuda College as an innovative showcase for technology. There is no better way to showcase than to use it and have it on site.”

Mr Weeks has also designed a solar-powered classroom that could be housed in a shipping container.

“I did a design for a portable solar classroom repurposing a container. It would be outfitted with solar panels and on the inside there would be a smart board and desks and we could take it from school to school. TN Tatem would have been an ideal showcase for it [when children had to move out of the school owing to mould issues]. It would cost about $24,000 — that is turnkey — everything ready.”

Mr Weeks believes that the photovoltaic course can offer Bermudians who have been negatively affected by the economic downturn the opportunity to “retool” and find work.

“I have an engineering company and I was educated by the National Training Board which is now the Department of Workforce Development, so I was looking for a way to give back.

“The new Energy Act incorporates renewable energies and solar in particular, so I said why not empower people because certain doors have closed? It is a new market. I think that this is a new viable option for people to retool.

“It fits in with the college’s Stem (science, technology, engineering and math) programming.

“The course at the college is for certified electricians, but I will offer to teach anyone who is interested [outside of the college].”

Certified electricians interested in the course at Bermuda College can enquire about application through the Department of Workforce Development.

• For further details, call Mr Weeks on 300-3550.

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Published Dec 23, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 23, 2016 at 2:26 am)

Sun helps college get turned on to Christmas

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