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Barry firm launches Green Energy academy after £100,000 investment

A NEW academy for the green energy engineers of the future aims to train 400 people a year as demand in the sector soars.

Energy Renewable Solutions (ERS) of Barry sells and installs solar panels, batteries, air source heat pumps and air conditioning for homes, offices and commercial premises across South Wales, and now the firm is helping to train the next generation of technicians.

ERS has invested in state-of-the-art training facilities to help tackle what it describes as a ‘desperate’ shortage of the skills to install the renewable energy products. 

The firm has received the backing of Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE which provided a £100,000 loan to help finance the project.

Rhys Williams, CEO of ERS, said he was very grateful to UKSE for their support. The firm has recently taken on three staff in addition the present 12, and the Business Plan predicts this will rise to 40 in three years with a projected turnover of £5 million. 

Demand for solar panels, air source pumps, storage batteries and air conditioning was huge following the price shocks of recent years. “Homeowners and businesses understandably want to make their heating and cooling more efficient, and to take advantage of generous Government grants available,” he said. 

Challenges, though, lay ahead for the industry. “Demand is strong, yet there is a desperate shortage of skilled installers, and this is why we have established the Academy to help train the workforce needed in coming years as the industry grows and develops.”

Howard Thompson UKSE Regional Executive in Wales said: “We are very pleased to be able to support ERS. The firm already has a strong order book for its work installing energy efficient products, and now the launch of the Academy is a very exciting vision for the future.

“There is certainly a skills shortage in this area and ERS will provide the very highest levels of training for this work in this growing industry. We wish them every success in this venture.”

UKSE works with Welsh businesses with potential to create sustainable employment and prosperity, providing loans and equity packages up to £1 million. In the past 50 years, UKSE has supported some 83,000 jobs in former steel areas around the UK.

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The ERS Academy , which opens this year, will offer four three-day courses in installation of Solar Panels, Batteries, Air Source Heat Pumps and Air Conditioning, as well as Health and Safety training. All courses are delivered by the team of three fully qualified in-house trainers. 

“We are working with Careers Wales who provide training grants of £1500 to eligible candidates, and we are sure there will be huge demand for places on our programmes. We estimate that we will train around 400 people a year,” said Mr Williams. 

New products and technologies mean that energy efficiency measures are becoming more effective and sophisticated all the time, he added. “It is now possible to improve the energy efficiency of buildings enormously, often bringing an E rating up to A.

“There are still challenges on the skills front and also the infrastructure, but I am confident the future is bright for the sector and this is why ERS is, with help from UKSE, investing in the future.”