The N.C. Solar Center completed another successful round of the Certificate in Renewable Energy Management (CREM) program. CREM is the only program in the country that is especially designed for the non-installer that covers trends in renewable energy technology, federal and local policy, and financing strategies. Professionals who have attended the program come from diverse backgrounds – from engineering to marketing, and banking to project development. The class, which typically runs for three months, requires participants attend 36-plus hours of online and onsite classes, complete the short quizzes and submit and present a group project. Each group project is comprised of professionals from different disciplines to work together and come up with a project that uses the skills and knowledge gained during the course of the program.
“For me, a particular highlight was viewing the class projects undertaken and presented by the students taking the program,” said Forrest Milder, a Boston-based lawyer who taught the course Practical Aspects of Renewable Energy Project Development, and was also a former chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. “The students obviously put a first-class effort into their work and treated the assignment like a true business opportunity. They interviewed potential off-takers, developers, accountants and lawyers, and some of the groups produced a classy work product that looked like it was done by a seasoned professional. You could tell that these groups put a lot of work into it their presentation and it didn’t look like a mere class project.”
Projects have included feasibility studies, a study on community solar’s perils and promise, and proposals for clean energy systems in manufacturing. The fall 2012 class projects involved creative ways to have solar installation on schools and university buildings, and a non-profit business plan to distribute pre-fabricated powerports with emergency and developing world use.
“The most tangible value that the class gets out of this particular course is the group project,” said Lyra Rakusin, Workforce Development Specialist at the N.C. Solar Center and course designer of CREM. “The effort that each group puts in analyzing the pros of a location, gathering the data, deciding which technology to use, and making the project work financially helps these professionals understand what it takes to make it in this growing industry. In the end, these are the skills needed to create the jobs of this century.”
While the CREM program caters to the non-technical side of renewables, the N.C. Solar Center continues to offer workshops for installers and system designers of solar electric, solar thermal, wind systems and home energy raters. The Center also has workshops for STEM teachers and community college instructors who wish to incorporate renewable energy into the classroom. That effort is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Program and the Solar Instructor Training Network.