PV / Wind power installation class

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In an attempt to make myself more valuable, I have enrolled in our community college's first solar / wind power class ever offered.

I had to talk with the instructor in order to get my pre-requisites waived and he sounded like a great guy. He is an EE and is involved with a company that is currently doing installations.

Our state is a license state and has an apprentice to journeyman ratio now in effect. I may be the only journeyman in the class. I hope not as I think this will be a huge part of our trade in the not so distant future.

Can anyone offer me some advice on how to get the most out of this class? Also, will I really be more employable after passing the class? How marketable are skills in designing and installing grid tie solar and wind systems?

Thanks to all,



Senior Member
DC area
will I really be more employable after passing the class? How marketable are skills in designing and installing grid tie solar and wind systems?
Let's hope your state is sunny and windy.

Continuing education at almost any price is probably a bargain

Here's something on employability


Senior Member
110323-2001 EDT


On your side of the state I believe the Consumer's Power mandated incentives from the State have been exhausted. They were extremely generous I understand.

DTE's are not as good, but their allocated money will run out also.

When the incentives run out who will buy this stuff?

I think you should get the education. Instead would it be better to become a real expert in logic circuits and ability to do really good things with PLCs and do some industrial work where you can really provide a payback to the customer?

Relative to solar and wind there is going to have to be a great increase in regular electric rates before these areas are economically viable. People that claim that costs will drop on PV arrays like they have on integrated circuits are nuts. The reason functional value is so great with integrated circuits is because tremendous miniaturization was possible. This is not possible with solar arrays. Even 100% efficiency would only reduce the area to 1/4. Not orders of magnitude as has occurred in integrated circuits.

I am a believer that we should extract energy from solar and wind, but it has to be economical. One way to accomplish this is to gradually increase the tax on non-renewable resources. I call it a "well head" tax. If also applied to things like copper and iron it would force up the scrap value of these materials and produce more recycling. Government incentives can provide some seed money, but can not make everyone go out and buy these sources, and government incentives cause an imbalance in the self regulating economic system. Without incentives how many people are buying some form of hybrid car? Gas prices have to get much higher to produce any great increase in these sales.

I hear claims of $7.5 per watt rating to install a solar system. On some of these systems the claim is made that yearly production is about 1.4 times the W rating for the number of KWH generated in lower Michigan. The one place I can get data from is more like 0.8 for the ratio. So if we use use the 1.4 ratio I get 1400 KWH per year for a $7500 investment. Currently I pay DTE about $0.135 per KWH. So if I produce from the solar array 1400*0.135 = $189 per year, then that would take more than 40 years to pay for the investment. This is a simplistic approach on value and I won't get into other complicating factors.

Thanks for the replies!

My personal observation for the area that I live in has been almost nil for solar, but wind turbines springing up at an ever growing pace.

Most of the contractors I know don't even know what a grid-tie inverter is, let alone how to install one and make sure it is working properly.

Also, even though Michigan may not be the ideal location for solar, I could use my knowledge in other states, perhaps in design or consultation.

Here is another reason I am so interested in the class:

MUSKEGON COUNTY ? Based on early indications, the proposed $300 million Muskegon County wind-energy farm is receiving a favorable breeze from developers.
This will be three miles from my house.


There is also a project planned for a research buoy in Lake Michigan, about 15 miles from where I live.

I think we will see solar start popping up here in the future. Our summers are very sunny and the need for power hungry air conditioners is greater when it's sunny. Also, the price is going down and the efficiency is going up.

Conversely, during our cold winters it costs more to heat our homes when it's windy. Wind chill is a factor for anything that is exothermic.
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