Just a decade ago, renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun were not seen as real economic alternatives compared to cheap and plentiful fossil fuels.
But with the reality of climate change and increased global warming, there is now a new focus on renewable energy technologies as serious and affordable alternative energy supplies.
This changing perspective underpins a unique course at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFEs (NMIT) Epping campus in Certificate IV in Renewable Energy Technology that's designed to provide knowledge and skills about renewable energy technologies to meet the increasing demand in the community.
Currently, NMIT is the only TAFE institute in Victoria to offer this 12-month course full-time.
NMIT Epping campus Computer Systems and Electrotechnology Program Coordinator Gerry Cervasio said when NMIT first introduced the course a few years ago, it was focused on people living in remote areas who didn't have access to the easy affordability of traditional energy supplies.
'This has changed completely now to include people in communities within the metropolitan region as well as industries, who are looking seriously at alternative energy technologies for their homes and businesses.'
The course includes areas of study such as coordinating maintenance of renewable energy apparatus and systems, designing a renewable energy system and planning the installation of renewable energy apparatus' and systems.
'It prepares students with a thorough background in theoretical knowledge and practical, hands-on experience to work in the planning and installing of renewable systems both commercially and residentially for people's homes,' Gerry said.
He added facilities at the campus included a fully-functioning 10-metre high wind turbine as well as photovoltaic panelled frames where students could construct all the electronics to control and retrieve energy from the panels.
Students also learn basic welding skills at NMIT's Heidelberg campus.
'The debate on energy sources is raging at the moment; not just in Australia, but globally,' Gerry said.
'While there's an international focus on nuclear power, the wind and the sun take on a more integral importance in the debate for many people concerned about the future of our planet.'
Gerry added countries such as Australia had a responsibility to develop alternative technologies, not just for use in our own country, but for developing countries with very high greenhouse gas emissions.
'The answer to address climate change and global warming issues in the immediate future, both here and overseas, is with a mix of energy technologies including wind, solar and even water sources together with clean coal and possibly hydrogen fuel cells.'
Student Mias Feenstra, 25, of Brunswick, grew up in a solar powered house in Wooragee, near Beechworth, which gave him first-hand insight into the benefits of renewable energy technology.
'I was energy aware from a young age and am passionate about renewable energy as a real alternative for people at home or at work,' Mias said.
'I have always had a strong affiliation with nature which started me thinking about climate change and global warming and finding energy solutions for our environment.'
Mias added he had worked in the renewable energy field for 18 months, and realised he needed to study to enhance his knowledge and skills.
'When you consider the pollution, waste and focus on fossil fuels and the effect on our environment, it's obvious to me that things aren't being done correctly and I want to work on alternatives in such a way that people can see that they work.
'Renewable energy seems to me to be the most practical way to provide our energy needs in the future.'
Gerry said the interest generated in NMIT's course this year had led to NMIT offering a mid-year intake into the course.
Course Inquiries: Tel: NMIT (03) 9269-1068
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on 03 9269 1579, 0413 483 182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) – Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne’s north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.