Sunrise to sunset: Learning GIS mapping for solar energy

Written by: Yury Rodriguez, GIS Mapping for Solar Course Coordinator of Green Skills Academy

“The Solar Installation program is equipped us with the right skills, technical, administrative and soft skills. We can launch ourselves in the solar job market with confidence and know that we'll be successful."

I joined Relay Education because I believe the change for a more sustainable future starts with education. I’m happy to be a part of a program that provides free access to training programs for underrepresented and underserved groups of people through the Green Skills Academy program. 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping for Solar is one of the courses offered through the Greens Skills Academy, where participants can develop new skills in GIS and learn current techniques for new solar energy generation projects based on location and community characteristics. Participants work with real data and challenges through lab assignments using ArcGIS Pro, a top GIS software developed by Esri.  

Relay partnered with different organizations in the Green Skills Academy, and as the course coordinator, it’s been a great experience to work with Co-Mapping Solutions. The course was engaging, relevant, and beneficial because of their GIS mapping expertise and passion. 

Snehal Khade is a graduate of the Solar Installation course and a finance professional, who has worked at institutions such as JP Morgan and the Royal Bank of Canada.

“I'm at that stage in my career where I'm looking for something more,” Khade reflects. “I'm in a transition phase and when this opportunity came, I grabbed it with two hands, and I said yes.” 

photo of a younger woman with brown skin, curly black long hair, brown eyes who is smiling looking at the camera
Snehal Khade is a graduate of the Solar Installation course and a finance professional.

The Solar Installation course helps professionals looking to switch to green careers. This matches the Government of Canada’s targets to get to net‑zero, green and climate‑resilient operations by 2050. 

For Snehal Khade and many others participants, the program offered more than technical skills. It provided a platform for personal and professional growth. It equipped participants with confidence and knowledge for the solar job market.  

“The Solar Installation program was holistic,” Khade explains. “We built a roof from scratch and installed shingles, mounting racks, and photovoltaic solar panels. [It] prepared us for the job market by including soft skills like, preparing our resume, networking, and interviewing skills.”

Relay Education’s partnered with organizations to provide participants with many experiences. Edmonton participants toured Canada’s largest rooftop solar array at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Participants in Toronto spent a week at the Elephant Thoughts’ Riverstone Campus, a cozy retreat centre, where they installed solar panels and enjoyed summer nights away from the big city. Participants learned about sustainable urban farming from Toronto Black Farmers & Food Growers Collective, while building a solar installation on the farm at Downsview Park.

Looking Ahead

We continue to empower individuals and communities, with each new course, one solar panel at a time.

We plan to reach more participants in Nunavut, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Prince Edward Island in the next few months. The impact of the Solar Installation training course is shining bright. Illuminating a path to a more sustainable and inclusive future for all.

“Having this knowledge has enabled me to make a more informed decision in how I see my career shaping up,” Khade shares. “I hope to see more programs like these, especially as Canada, aiming to transition away from fossil fuels to more sustainable jobs.” 

This program is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.