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US OW Workforce Forecast to be Nearly 15,000 by 2024

 

 

New report analyzes global wind industry trained personnel needs

 

The workforce requirements for the global wind industry are forecast in a report called: Powering the Future: Global Offshore Wind Workforce Outlook 2020-2024, compiled by Global Wind Organisation (GWO) and Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The report analyses various markets and by utilizing existing data on personnel who have received Sea Survival training, comes to a benchmark of 2.5 persons per MW per project are needed to deliver the 31GW forecast for these six key markets: North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea.

The report asks how many trained personnel will be needed to work on site building the pipeline of offshore wind in the target markets, and how to address any workforce supply chain bottlenecks.

In seeking answers to these questions, the researchers utilized GWO training data and an offshore wind installation forecast compiled by GWEC. These data-sets were analyzed and subsequently augmented by data from Renewables Consulting Group’s GRIP database and publicly available data from industry sources, together with more subjective inputs derived from a series of interviews with GWO member organizations and training providers.

The whole report is here, but key takeaways are:

 

1. A roadmap will be needed to match offshore wind market forecasts with local training requirements

 

The offshore wind market is growing exponentially and will be a major driver of the energy transition across the world, but we need the workforce in place in order to deliver on offshore wind's incredible potential. This report provides a qualitative analysis of the workforce training needs required to deliver 31GW of forecast installations in six target markets: North America, China (Mainland), Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea.

 

2. 77,000 GWO-trained on-site workers needed to power offshore wind growth in emerging markets

 

The offshore wind industry will need 77,000 GWO-trained on-site workers to fulfill 2020-2024 market forecasts in these six target markets. These jobs include the on-site workforce that require GWO training such as installation, commissioning and O&M activities. Ultimately this means that the industry will require on average 2.5 persons per MW per project. The US industry will therefore need 14,300 skilled, dedicated personnel to install and operate 5.7 GW of capacity.

 

3. Key bottlenecks for training must be overcome to meet offshore wind ambitions

 

Key workforce supply chain bottlenecks that must be addressed in order to realist these large-scale training needs. Barriers include a lack of training centers, lack of familiarity with standards and risk of standards being perceived as “imposed” and unreflective of local context.

 

4. Having a trained offshore workforce based on standards is crucial to power the global energy transition

 

Having a trained workforce based on GWO standards is necessary to ensure health and safety of workers, secure the long-term sustainability of the sector, create thousands of local jobs and power the global energy transition.

 

5. COVID-19 will have an impact on both workforce and turbine supply chain

 

The impacts of COVID-19 on both workforce and turbine supply chain is yet to be fully quantified, although GWEC Market Intelligence expects there to be minor impacts for the markets highlighted in the report, and GWO has begun rolling at digital training platforms to continue training the workforce during the crisis.

The report looks at the rapid growth in the European workforce to forecast what could be the training requirements in emerging markets. 

There was a 51% increase in the number of training modules completed between 2017 and 2019. The report concludes that 23,111 trained persons were equated to installations of 3,627 MW of capacity throughout 2019, equating to an annual average of 6.4 persons per MW. On a large project timescale of typically 2.5 years, the researchers extract a figure of 6.4 / 2.5 = 2.5 persons per MW per project.

The Workforce Needs of the USA

 

The report specifically addresses the workforce projected for the USA's massive expansion of OW capacity in the next few years.

The GWO already operates training centers in the North American onshore market, having trained more than 3000 personnel, with 83% growth in training in 2019. The organization acknowledges that their standards have not penetrated the US market to the degree seen in Europe, however the GWO North American Committee is ensuring that a constructive dialogue is maintained with all key stakeholders. The Committee comprises representatives from 11 major owner-operators and turbine manufacturers active in North America and their objective is to ensure GWO standards are made available as a complement to existing local resources such as other local maritime and construction training bodies.

US workers could migrate from onshore wind, or the oil and gas industry. The report pinpoints a possible reluctance to retraining if the workforce believes they already “know enough” - but of course sea safety is a quite different thing to working on land and will need to be addressed.

Job creation is a key political objective for a variety of actors in the marketplace so this will be likely to have support from stakeholders and important authorities, for example, state governors.

 

The main workforce supply chain bottlenecks are:

 

• Barriers to establishing GWO training centers, including a lack of available instructors, insufficient numbers of certifying auditors familiar with the standards

 

• Lack of familiarity overall with standards like GWO

 

• Risk of standards seen as being "imposed" as opposed to a system that markets can align themselves to reflect local regulation and cultural norms.

 

The report is a valuable addition to the knowledge base for offshore wind, and should help the authorities in the USA, at federal, State, and local level to conceptualise their workforce needs and set about training the required amount of people to ensure there are no headwinds encountered as the market develops.

Powering the Future: Global Offshore Wind Workforce Outlook 2020-2024

Global Wind Organisation and Global Wind Energy Council

Photo by  Sasin Tipchai  on  Scopio

 

The US offshore wind market is probably the most rapidly-developing renewable energy sector in the world.

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By Julian Jackson – writer on technology, arts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies


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