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SEI's Solar Professionals Academy of the Americas (SPAA) Goes to D.C.

Posted by: chris
April 30, 2014
On April 16th, SEI visited the nation's capital to present on the successful collaboration strategies that were implemented through the Solar Professionals Academy of the Americas (SPAA). In 2013 SEI received funding from the U.S. State Department through a program called the Energy & Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA). With this funding SEI set out to train 50 people, representing countries, communities, and organizations throughout Central America and Mexico to design, install and maintain solar PV systems in conjunction with business training and mentoring to equip the trainees with the information necessary to launch solar businesses.

The public discussion forum in Washington D.C. was hosted by the Department of Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States. The purpose of this forum was to showcase the collaborative efforts led by governments, international organizations and NGOs under the auspices of ECPA to address the energy and climate challenges facing the countries of the Americas. There were 10 project implementers who participated in this forum sharing information on their projects in the region ranging from the generation of electricity through biogas for coffee growers in Honduras, energy efficiency initiatives in Costa Rica, climate change metrology and technology challenges in the Americas, and improving access to clean energy through solar lighting applications.

The audience who ranged from representatives of NGO's, delegates and decision makers from countries in the region, and officials from U.S. government agencies engaged in an open debate with implementing partners about the potential to leverage their partnerships to create a robust ECPA network.

Matthew Harris, Director of the Solar Professionals Academy of the Americas presented on the successful program implemented by SEI in 2013, provided information on strategic partnerships developed, and shared success stories from the SPAA graduates. As a result of SPAA, SEI was able to increase regional communication and collaboration between the SPAA graduates and with other renewable energy practitioners in the region, gain a better understanding of country barriers in order to support opportunities to advance the solar industry in the Americas, and strengthen SEI's Spanish Program recognition and training offerings for Spanish Speaking countries.

One of the biggest results of the SPAA program is the amount of solar electricity that has been implemented in the region since the program ended in November of 2013. Since graduating from SPAA, trainees (that we know of) have installed half a MW of solar in over 80 installation projects across Central America and Mexico. We expect to see a total of 1-2MW of solar electricity installed by SPAA graduates in over 100 individual projects by the end of 2014. 

As a result of this successful program SEI has been recognized to be nominated for a Solar Foundation Award. The Solar Foundation (TSF) is an independent national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research that educates the public and transforms markets. During their annual Summer Solstice TSF will be highlighting achievement in solar energy with the second annual presentation of The Solar Foundation Awards! These awards are designed to recognize leaders in solar product innovation, education, technology deployment and international programs.

SEI encourages our alumni and colleagues to learn more about SEI's vision for renewable energy training in the Americas (Program Hispano) and help support our goal of being the leading renewable energy training provider in the Americas. Consider nominating SEI's International Program for the Solar Foundation Award. Call for nominations are due May 23. You can nominate SEI here.

Find out more about SEI's Spanish Program, or email Matthew Harris,

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