Last fall, the University of Delaware, in partnership with the Energy and Climate Academy of Denmark, announced it was creating a new curriculum to train people for jobs in the wind energy industry. The first of the new courses began last week. This is the first offshore wind skills training program in the United States to focus on professionals and managers seeking to enter the industry. The courses will provide instruction in the basics of wind power, offshore wind turbines, and the development of offshore wind projects with an emphasis on professionals from traditional energy industries, supply chain companies, regulators, the investment community and others.
Willett Kempton and John Madsen are professors at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and its Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. They will be the first directors of the Offshore Wind Skills Academy.
Kempton points out that many professionals and small businesses have expertise in areas necessary for offshore wind but don’t know the industry. With supplemental training, hydrologists, geophysicists, and environmental engineers could make valuable contributions to wind power developers.
In an e-mail to CleanTechnica, Kempton says, “The northeast states in the U.S. have committed to 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind to be built in the next 10 years. That is the equivalent of building an entire nuclear power complex each year for the next 10 years. There is not anything like the number of people we need to do that. We wanted to be part of the overall effort to train the professionals, managers and new entrants to this industry.”
The Offshore Wind Skills Academy will focus on how wind power works, the logistics of building a wind power project, and the details of planning a wind power installation. There will also be information specific to the United States market including permitting, environmental assessments, and working with local suppliers.
Faculty at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment have studied the potential in wind power for years, assessing everything from the amount of wind to the geology of the seafloor and the marine life in the offshore lease areas designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. They will provide the US-specific information to course attendees.
Technical information on contracts, feasibility studies, logistics and more will be taught by instructors from the Energy and Climate Academy, a Danish company that has been providing this kind of education in the European market since 2004 and has trained more than 2,000 professionals there.
Torben Kirkegaard, head of the Energy and Climate Academy, says he expects businesses in the United States to be surprised by the need for construction expertise when demand for wind energy hits its peak. He compares development of the wind energy industry to a ketchup bottle. You smack it repeatedly with no apparent effect until all of a sudden it just pours out.
“We have always tried to go where we have seen a new market develop. We think offshore wind is really going to take off now in the East Coast,” Kirkegaard says. “We could be able to accelerate the development of the offshore wind industry [in the United States].”
The new courses offer one and two day versions of Introduction to Offshore Wind and a three day Offshore Wind Farm Project Development advanced course. After that round of courses, the Academy will offer classes in May and November each year, adding topics over time. Other courses under development will address topics including engineering, financing and construction planning. Tuition is $800 per day and interested persons may register online.