Women energised to take on renewables sector after training seminar
Shireka Campbell is optimistic that women will have access to more opportunities in the field of electrical engineering and renewable energy after participating in a three-day Soleco Energy Limited-hosted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems training seminar.
The free Women in Solar training seminar, which had 19 participants, was held from November 7 to 10 as part of the company’s efforts to promote the inclusion of more women in the renewable energy sector.
Speaking with The Gleaner on Friday, Campbell said the seminar was particularly beneficial to her as “knowledge cannot be too much”.
Campbell noted that there were very few women in the sector, a situation she believes results from a lack of awareness of the benefits that can be derived from a career in the field.
“I don’t think that persons are fully aware of ... why they should buy into it,” she said. “[With] more education, then the interest of women will grow and we will be more open to explore that option.”
According to Campbell, her interest in the field was sparked after having to work on a project focusing on solar production during her final-year of studies at university.
“From there, I [developed] a great interest. I’ve been doing my reading and my research, and it’s something I was looking at going into. I don’t know anyone that does this, so when I got the opportunity to attend the conference, it was like an alignment with my interests,” she said.
Campbell, who majored in applied chemistry and got a minor in general chemistry at university, currently works at SK Manufacturing Industries as a quality control and administrative officer.
She said the PV systems training seminar was incredibly educational as it provided fresh perspectives and highlighted multiple opportunities for women.
Jacqueline Richards, who also engaged in the training, said that with her electrical engineering background, the seminar better equipped her to return to her place of employment and to help execute the company’s future plans in solar.
“Based on the sessions that we did, there are a lot of safety and security measures that you have to consider,” she told The Gleaner.
Richards added that the sessions had opened her eyes to the exposures, hazards and risks in solar panel installation and how to mitigate them.
The Women in Solar seminar spoke to the concepts of electricity and safety practices, key components of solar PV systems and the assembly of support structures, and technical skills for the installation and wiring of solar PV panels. It was held at the Paradise Park Solar Farm in Westmoreland, the largest in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.
Leading the seminar was Lauren Peters, managing director of the Trinidad and Tobago-based Nuance Security and Solar Systems Limited, which specialises in renewable energy alternatives and is a regional supplier of PV equipment.
“I’ve always dreamed about providing training for women, especially in the trade. Renewable energy is the future and we have to invest in ourselves … There are limited opportunities specifically designed for women and especially in the trade industry,” Peters said.
Angella Rainford, founder of Soleco, said it was the company’s goal to help to level the playing field for women and to inspire them to work in the male-dominated renewable energy sector.
“These seminars are absolutely critical … We’re super proud to be doing this, but this is only a small step and a lot more can be done throughout the country,” she said.
Soleco was founded in 2019 and delivers turnkey solar energy and storage solutions for its commercial and industrial clients within the Caribbean. It provides a solar lease-to-own model, which covers the upfront cost of the installation and leases it to clients over an agreed term.
The renewable energy company is based in the UK and Jamaica and has a presence in Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and The Bahamas.
Soleco’s principals were co-developers of the 51MW Paradise Park project in Westmoreland.
Earlier this year, Soleco secured US$24.3 million in funding from Inter-American Development Bank Invest to fast-track its projects that are mainly focused on solar energy systems.