Dieter Dilchert, technical director of PSA Solar Con, is a well-known businessman and entrepreneur. He has a great interest, and for the past 13 years has played a prominent role, in building the renewables industry in South Africa. Dieter founded a training institute for solar and wind energy installations and has had a significant influence on training and skills development within this industry. He is a dedicated family man who thrives on challenges.
Sparks: Where were you educated?
DD: I am originally from Germany, and my education took place at the Electro Technical College in Frankfurt.
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
DD: I have been in the electrical industry for the past 45 years.
Sparks: When and where did you start your career?
DD: I started my career in Frankfurt in 1965 where I began as an apprentice in a chemical factory.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
DD: The biggest change for me has been the change in technology from analogue to digital.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
DD: I would say that the biggest project I have worked on was also one of the greatest accomplishments of my life and that was the design and project management of the DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) PV plant system.
Sparks: Have you won any awards?
DD: Not directly, but I have received recognition from the German Chancellor for the training I have provided over the years.
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
DD: Elon Musk is an inspiration to me.
Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
DD: To me, one of the biggest challenges facing the PV industry at this time is that people do not have enough knowledge and understanding of PV solar systems. This is exacerbated by insufficient technical training.
Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?
DD: For me it is about challenges and in my current job I enjoy the challenges that are presented to me the most. When I am presented with a challenge it gives me enormous satisfaction to determine a solution.
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
DD: I motivate my staff by example.
Sparks: If you could "do it all again", would you change anything? If so, what would that be?
DD: No, I have enjoyed my life and have learned so much along the way. I don’t think I would make any changes if I could “do it all again.”
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
DD: Yes, I would definitely advise young people to enter the electrical industry. I firmly believe that the industry provides great opportunities for young people to grow and excel. It is also a fast changing industry so there are constantly new things to learn.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
DD: My advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers would be to work hard and to keep up with modern technology. Never fall behind with what is happening with technology in the world.
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
DD: My favourite quote is ‘What you can do today, do not delay to tomorrow’.
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).
DD: The three things that are on my bucket list are to cruise the Mediterranean; to visit the Intersolar in the USA and to buy an electric bike.