News Release from BZEE Nework GmbH


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BZEE Quality Manager Gerard McGovern in the Windfair Newsletter: BZEE challenges the skills gap

You no longer need a Che Gevera cap to become a revolutionary: conservative governments the world over are currently chanting the Renewables Revolution in hitherto unknown harmony. And in the wind energy sector there is no shortage of numbers to back up t

Gerard McGovern, Quality Manager BZEE ConsultGerard McGovern, Quality Manager BZEE Consult
In its bulletin of June 2011 WWEA announced 200 Gigawatt of installed wind power in2010, thus significantly topping the widely publicised GWEC “advanced” scenario of the year 2009. In July 2011 GWEC recorded 16% of global final energy consumption and 20% of global electricity production supplied by renewables with wind power acting as the driver. WWEA warns, however, that a number of unresolved problems, in particular unpredictable feed-in tariff regulations, unsettled grid access, sluggish permit procedures and neglected citizen involvement could, if not solved, cramp industry growth and thwart the political 2020 targets. The GWEC 2009/2010 report highlighted another, more stubborn dilemma that cannot be resolved by a wave of the legislator’s wand: the skills gap. Amidst all the understandable excitement that accompanies new wind farm installations, it takes a value chain perspective to appreciate the skills needed to allow the new installations to churn out predictable power and profit over their 20-year lifespan. In the maintenance sector alone project engineers calculate a demand for 0,33 technician per MW - taking into account recently increased turbine performance - which on the basis of conservative scenarios will call for a highly qualified O&M workforce of approx. 350.000 if the politically significant 20% figure is to be reached, in effect a missing resource. Skills development is lagging behind Gigawatt expansion with national education regimes proving notoriously slow in reacting to the job potential of renewable energy. And as if to make matters worse, the proliferation of competing pseudo standards in the education and training sub-sector continues to baffle the Industry’s personnel development officers.

BZEE pioneer of wind skills
Back in the days of MW scenarios the new German wind industry, then ranked number two in the world wind league, was faced with a dilemma similar to the current skills gap and in 2000 set up the BZEE training centre to deliver the skills the established apprenticeship programmes could not provide. Today, with its track record of over 1400 successfully qualified service technicians BZEE has remained an industry-driven skills operation with its 80 company members interacting to continually align curricula to emerging technology and enhanced operational routines. The current portfolio offers a diversified range of skills for the onshore and offshore wind industry including nacelle production skills, BZEE’s own wind mechatronics apprenticeship programme and such highly specialised qualifications such as rotor blade repair technician. The BZEE portfolio is currently undergoing full modularisation to provide a clear structure for skills progression and to offer flexible qualification routes to the Industry.

Support for developing markets
In 2010 BZEE opened its new training facility boasting state-of-the art training equipment in Husum, Germany, which acts as a hub of an expanding network of BZEE-licensed training facilities in Germany, France, Denmark, England, Ireland, Canada and the US. BZEE General Manager Nils Peters: “We’ve set an ambitious target of meeting 50% of the global technician skills demand by 2020 and are focussed on building the necessary Skills Alliance.”
The BZEE support package for developing wind markets is designed to compensate for the lengthy and often beaurocratic process of establishing wind energy training competencies from rock bottom. It comprises a condensed teacher training programme, standards compliance assistance and even turn-key delivery of training equipment including a customized training tower. Following the decision to invest in national skills development BZEE can ensure that technician training can commence within a period of as little as six months.

International skills framework
Crossing national educational boundaries has proved a tougher a task than shipping technology to developing markets. Even in Europe with its (formally) harmonized European Qualification Framework for vocational skills development the potential for demarcation disputes relating to training certificates is vast and vested interests are quick to build new barriers to restrict the mobility of the wind industry’s international workforce. BZEE has opted for an international solution to this dilemma by having the BZEE standard certified according to the new ISO Standard 29990 for Learning Services for Non-formal Education and Training. BZEE Quality Manager Gerard McGovern reports: ”We’ve benefited immensely from the ISO process and are proud to be the industry’s first education services provider to meet the new standard.” With the skills agenda emerging as the key enabler in delivering the promised wind energy potential, the new standard is highly suited to establishing an international competency framework for skills development and skills transfer within the Industry.

While such innovations claim no “revolutionary” status, they play their part in helping the Industry deliver.

Gerard McGovern
BZEE Consult GmbH
Gerard McGovern, Quality Manager BZEE Consult

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