Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Solar Energy International and Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center’s ‘Tribal Train the Trainer’ Program Continues to Grow Pool of Native American Solar Trainers

For nearly three decades, solar leader Solar Energy International (SEI) has trained 76,000 people in solar installation, with these individuals going on to expand energy access for millions. During the last two of these decades, SEI has collaborated with Red Cloud Renewable (RCR), the first Native American-owned energy center. The Center annually welcomes more than 200 tribal members from across the Great Plains and beyond to participate in learning and skill development in solar installation, as well as in entrepreneurship, growing quality food, using efficient building methods, and more.

Recently, the collaboration launched a Tribal Train the Trainer (T4) program to increase the numbers of Native American solar installation trainers who go on to teach and manage Tribal community solar projects.

In 2019, nine people from six tribes were engaged in in-depth solar upskilling in Grid-Direct, Off-Grid and energy storage system designs, with these trainees then training another 10 individuals. In program year two, they will train yet another cohort. T4 alumni will further engage their Native American communities in a number of ways, including co-teaching solar classes or participating in a local solar project.

The need for training in these communities is great; currently the U.S. has 567 federally-recognized Native American and Alaskan Native Tribes, and many members suffer from high rates of poverty and unemployment. The Energy Information Administration estimates that 14 percent of households have no access to electricity – 10 times higher than the national average. At the same time, the green job sector has grown in the past five years and new data shows that solar installer will be the fastest-growing job in America over the next decade. T4 will help to further increase these numbers, and allow employment, training and entrepreneurial start-ups to thrive and prosper as energy sovereignty for Tribal communities grows

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Photo credit: Solar Energy International

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