By Ombajo Vincent Gedion
Renewable energy has grown and still continues to grow in Kenya. Many professionals have taken up solar energy as full time practice. With this growth of solar energy and a growing market, the government stepped in to regulate the sector. The solar energy sector needed to be regulated so that quality service and products could be offered in the market. This saw the passing of the Energy (Solar photovoltaic systems) 2012 that makes it mandatory for anyone engaging in Solar PV business to obtain a license from Energy Regulatory Commission.
Why is this regulation important?
It doesn’t matter whether you are a registered engineer, a technician, scientist, electrician, student or a professor, for you to legally engage in the Solar PV business, you must acquire this license.
The laws were gazetted to protect the public from substandard solar products and untrained technicians.
Today customers prefer working with licensed technicians to avoid getting unqualified advice from untrained technicians.
The law makes it a criminal offense for anyone to produce, distribute, install, supply solar energy equipment without a valid license.
The question therefore is, how does one become a licensed Solar PV technician?
EPRA categories solar PV Technicians into three classes as follows;
T1 – Entitles the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for small systems or single battery
DC systems of up to 100Wp (watts peak).
T2- Entitles the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for medium systems or multiple
Batteries which may include an inverter.
T3 –Entitles the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for advanced projects, including grid connected and hybrid systems.
Qualifications and Experience
- KCPE, Electrical Government Trade Test 2 and basic solar training with a verifiable 2 years solar installation experience
- KCSE, Certificate in Electrical and/or Electronic and Intermediate Solar Training with verifiable 4 years solar installation experience
- KCSE, Diploma in Electrical and/or Electronic and Intermediate Solar Training with verifiable 2 years solar installation experience
- BSc Electrical Engineering or relevant degree or Higher National Diploma with one year of solar installation experience.
- KCSE, Diploma in Electrical and/or Electronic and Advanced Solar Training with verifiable 4 years solar installation experience
- BSc Electrical Engineering or relevant degree or Higher National Diploma with 2 years of solar installation experience.
Once you have the above qualifications;
- Register through the Energy Regulatory Commission’s Website (erc.go.ke). Attach copies of your academic and professional certificates.
- Thereafter, you will be invited for a written exam. If you pass this exams (the pass mark is 50%) , you will be invited for an oral interview. Once you are successful in the orals, you will get your license.
- For TI, an application fee of Ksh.250, 500 and 750 is payable for class T1, T2 and T3 respectively.
A lot of Solar PV training is also offered through government regulated institutions. Approximately 16 tertiary institutions across Kenya offer training in Solar PV. ERC only recognizes training courses offered in institutions accredited by the National Industrial Training Authority (www.nita.go.ke). Applicants without basic knowledge in electrical engineering must first undergo training in these institutions before applying for the ERC exams.