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  • May 27, 2013 - DECC announce they are doubling the RHPP grant for solar thermal from £300 to £600 - Solar Thermal Panels Receive Huge Renewable Heat Premium Payment - Solar Thermal has received a huge boost, it's a great time to buy a Solartwin Product. - Greg Barker tweeted about the scheme - - Big uplift for #RHPP Vouchers to put a shot in the... More →
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Censored. Read the missing web page from the Association of Environment Conscious Building.

Filed under: Latest News

Is this as flaming and libellous as the AECB claim? Judge it yourself. Perhaps the truth hurts certain AECB members?

Is the British Plumbing Education Council solar heating installer training manual “fair and impartial”?

I am a BPEC qualified solar thermal installer who attended a 4 day live-in training course at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). I am also the developer of an innovative solar heating system, Solartwin, which is largely excluded from the BPEC manual (which is also branded with the Solar Trade Association’s name).

Before I arrived at CAT, one solar heating lecturer vanished at short notice, to be replaced by another. The lecturers all worked very hard and delivered some very valuable hands on training. But I was appalled by the unbalanced content of the BPEC training manual, which they took as gospel, and on which they based perhap 90% of the solar panel installation course. As an ex teacher and A level examiner, I was struck by the dismal quality of the exam.

It merely asked the students to regurgitate chunks out of the manual. Few of the theoretically higher level educational capabilities (such as problem solving, evaluation, synthesis or analysis) were required. It would have been easy to test these abilities in a properly written exam – but they just weren’t there. I had   a pdf copy of the BPEC manual on my laptop, so in the open book exam, for each question, all I had to do was to search for keywords and copy out the supposed “right answers”. I added a note on several that in fact some answers were inaccurate because the manual was dodgy. So there was very little actual thinking involved. From an assessment perspective this was barely a level 2 exam. It purports to be level 3, I think.

The BPEC manual itself is actually an old banger with some new paint on it. It is a rehash of Filsol’s Shine 21 material, which itself was a rehash on something else, which was written about 20 years ago. It is inaccurate, poorly structured and it even contradicts itself in places. And to back up some of the myths which it contains, the author refers not to independent sources, as you might reasonably expect, but to more of his other flawed publications.

It needs to be rewritten from scratch by independent authors. Our experience is that the BPEC manual operates as a barrier to entry written in favour of the dominant mainly old solar solar water heating technology – against newer technology. Its authors are closely connected primarily with old solar designs.

Taking several weeks out to do so properly, I wrote a detailed technical comment on an early version of the manual. I sent it to BPEC, offering to help it become more balanced. Sadly, most of it was ignored. Only a minority of the suggestions for improvement were included in a redraft. Too many glaring errors and biases remain. OK, I need to present evidence of this so today I asked BPEC and STA whether they are OK with me publishing the detailed comment which I had sent to them. Watch this space…

The reality is that Solartwin is much easier to fit than old solar. Of course it could very easily be included fairly in the manual, without too much space requirement – as could several other missing innovations. One really does need to understand and handle Solartwin to be able to install it properly. However the BPEC manual appears to be scaring and misleading people into thinking that innovation (such as Solartwin) is harder, more uncertain and a more risk prone to install than old solar when the reverse may actually be the case.

I think that the BPEC manual delivers   to installers a clever commercial attack on one of the core benefits of our technology. Its simplicity. Indeed, many people who pass the BPEC course, as it is written, end up misinformed – or simply in the dark. So we have to spend a day with these people re-training them on what is the reality of installing solar innovation. Apart from people trained in a few places (such as Inverness College) where our technology is properly taught, most people who decline our training tend to mis-install it.

BPEC, if it really functioned properly should make our training courses unnecessary. If you want to know what we teach solar installers and how we rebut the BPEC and STA myths in our solar training seminars, here is a link:

The BPEC website says “We are committed to providing fair and impartial training and assessment.” Will BPEC now actually deliver this commitment via its solar thermal installer training material?

PS I have now asked the AECB webmaster: Would you agree to starting 6 new topics instead?

STA is simply fabulous
The BPEC manual is even more fabulous
All solar installations comply with HSE Legionella guidance
Lord Truscott is innocent
I think that low carbon renewables are fairer than zero.
Neutron bombs are good for the environment – really.

(Notice the first letters of each line.)


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