The Renewables Training Network (RTN) has unveiled its latest initiative to meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the wind energy sector with the announcement of new training courses in turbine blade inspection and maintenance.
To harness the wind effectively, blades must be kept in tip-top condition. This means owners have to put a proper inspection and maintenance regime in place. But despite the central place that blades have in the performance of a turbine, there are variations in the training courses available and there is no UK-wide standard for blade maintenance, repair and inspection training.
With more and more wind farms being built across the UK, the need for trained personnel is increasing. But with no agreed standard there is an awareness that companies use different approaches, which makes it hard for employees to demonstrate their skills and experience across the industry.
In the long run this means extra cost for the industry, as the lack of an agreed standard may also impact on wind farm performance.
Working with Energy Skills Partnership which co-funded the work, and analytics firm Renewable Strategy Limited, the RTN is developing a UK-wide standard for blade maintenance, repair and inspection training, with backing from industry to adopt this as an area of industry best practice.
The two new training courses will be launched in November. They will ensure the industry has access to workers trained to a high level by suitably qualified trainers. The courses will be rolled out to approved training providers at Train the Trainer events using materials designed specifically for the wind sector. Licensed training providers will then deliver the assured training to industry.
The courses are being developed by Renewable Strategy Limited for the RTN, with Energy Skills Partnership helping to pilot them.
The Head of the RTN, Patricia Knightley, said:
“The RTN was brought into being by the renewable energy industry to act as the catalyst in setting standards and training requirements for the wind and marine energy sectors.
“Industry has told us that there is a need for training and standards on blade maintenance, repair and inspection. In response we’ve brought together all those involved to devise a robust standard and set of modules that will address the skills shortages which exist in this area”.
The Director of Renewable Strategy Limited, Elias Dencker, said:
“We’re delighted to continue our work on the renewable energy front with the investors and operators in the wind industry. Blade maintenance is a highly specialised area, so the scope for any cross-fertilisation of know-how from other industries was limited – that’s why we had to take the lead and break new ground”.
The Director of Energy Skills Partnership, Jim Brown, said:
“The Energy Skills Partnership was keen to work with the RTN in developing these programmes to support the sector. We had already identified blades made of composite materials as a priority and have been working with colleges and blade manufactures to develop the capability of Scotland’s colleges.
“The training modules need to be industry-led and working with the RTN was the obvious route. We’re delighted to be in a position to support this initiative and look forward to working with the sector through its roll-out”.