Media outlets have focused on how renewable energy is a core component to help the world deal with its dependence on fossil fuels. As an alternative energy source, wind power is more straightforward to operate and cheaper than solar energy, and a lot safer than nuclear options. Ars Technica mentions that wind energy is more efficient than natural gas power plants leading to a lower cost per KH/h. As a renewable energy resource, wind can compete and even surpass some of the other renewable sources currently available on the market. However, the most significant problem wind faces is generation requires the wind to be moving at a constant speed over time.
The Offshore Wind Solution
Offshore wind farms solve several significant issues with wind power generation. The wind power offshore tends to be faster than onshore sources. The speed of the wind is especially significant because of how the turbines generate power work. A 15-mph wind can often generate twice as much power as a wind speed of 12 mph.
Additionally, offshore winds tend to be more consistent than onshore locations. Offshore wind generation platforms can supply coastal areas primarily, making it much simpler for power companies to distribute load across their grid. The Guardian mentions that marine wind power plants may be able to provide more energy than the world could use. America has already taken a significant lead in developing its offshore wind generation system.
Growth in the Wind Power Sector
New York has implemented an energy mandate that requires as much as 50% of local energy to be provided by renewable sources, according to Wind Power Engineering and Development. The need for offshore wind in such a case can’t be understated. New York is in a prime geographical location to benefit from its proximity to the sea. New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA) has taken the initiative in providing funds for training and “upskilling” existing workers within the wind power industry. Education resources for workers include international GWO training, which a worker can use anywhere in the world.
What is GWO Training?
The Global Wind Organization (GWO) states that GWO certification was developed at top private schools to conform with industry standards. Leading turbine manufacturers and owners designed the training in the hopes of providing a safe and clean working environment for those within the wind energy production field. Estimates put the number of global workers trained with GWO certification at around 10% of the worldwide workforce. The investment in this training is likely to be of extreme importance as the nation’s needs shift towards a renewable energy basis.
Higher Capacity for Renewable Energy Predicted
A recent statement by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as reported by Carbon Brief, mentions that renewable energy sources are slated to see massive growth over the next four years, potentially equaling coal globally as a source of energy production. The report follows what Americans with a finger on the pulse of the industry have realized for quite some time. In June of 2019, according to Forbes, renewable power production sources surpassed coal’s contribution to the national grid for the first time in history. The shift in paradigm is a huge deal for a country like the US which has only recently started investing in developing its renewable energy programs. Cutting dependence on coal and natural gas for energy production is a crucial step in making the country greener. The US has a long way to go, but this is a promising start.
The global trend of energy production to shift away from fossil fuels and into renewables has seen several other countries switch their focus. The World Economic Forum notes that Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and Norway have all managed to increase their production of renewable energy per capita, with the UK and Denmark leading the world in overall green energy production per gram of greenhouse gases produced. As these countries forge a new future for their energy production sources, their demand for offshore wind power employees will also go up.
A Need for Skilled Workers
The focus on renewables as a potential replacement for fossil fuels does show a shift in the market for workers as well. Workboat mentions that the US Department of Energy suggests that over 43,000 new jobs will be produced within the field of wind power alone. The market for workers within the east coast is exceptionally underrepresented, as the industry isn’t that prevalent in those areas as yet. The lack of trained and skilled personnel may provide a challenge for companies looking to capitalize on the wind power industry. Still, training centers have already started gearing up as they anticipate the operation of new wind generation stations in the area. More training companies are starting to offer offshore wind platform training, with a few even offering GWO certification.
How Are Northeast States Dealing with a Lack of Skilled Labor?
As Energy News notes, New York, New Jersey, and three New England states have dedicated themselves to attracting 10,000 MW of offshore wind generation stations by 2029. to deal with this incoming influx of demand for skilled workers, these states have invested in ensuring that their certification system and training programs for wind power workers at all levels are at global standards. Because of the novelty of the industry in these areas, training programs are being developed explicitly focusing on the needs of the wind power companies expected to take up residence in these states.
However, new, unskilled workers aren’t the only individuals that are being retrained to take up positions within wind power companies. The US Department of Energy notes that The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is championing efforts to hire more veterans within the offshore wind energy industry
. Offering these individuals work within the industry allows them to retrain their skills into something that not only helps power the country but also saves the environment as a result.
The Future of the Industry Across the Nation
While New Jersey and New York have taken the lead in creating and developing opportunities to implement renewable wind energy in their part of the country. Things are changing for the better across the entire nation. US Wind mentions several new pieces of legislation that passed in specific regions with a focus on renewable energy. Maryland’s Clean Energy Act stated the goal of seeing the state producing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources within the next twenty years. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act proposed by the Senate would create an offshore wind career training grant program. These programs mirror the growth of the renewable wind industry across the world as more countries start moving away from fossil fuels and into a cleaner, greener method of energy production.
Training With Purpose
What this means for workers involved in being trained in offshore wind energy jobs is that the industry and their prospects in it look bright. Renewables don’t have the same problem as fossil fuels of eventually running out. The level of skill needed to perform jobs on offshore wind facilities is as specialized as offshore rig operators in existing fossil fuel marine plants. The most significant difference is that there will always be wind turbines to service, even after all the oil is gone.