Offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance requires challenging new skillsets. Workers must know how to safely weld or repair turbines, all while strapped into a harness hundreds of feet in the air. In addition to the challenges of working at the height of an 18-story tall building, workers must be prepared for heavy winds, rain, and large, moving equipment. Therefore, a training facility with lifelike replicas of towers is essential to prepare workers for a variety of situations and minimize risks.
In Europe, project developers rely on third party firms to prepare workers for the risks they could encounter in the field. Maersk operates training facilities in Denmark and the United Kingdom that provide lifelike facilities to give hands-on training. Their training centers have been approved by the Global Wind Organization (GWO) and hold accreditations from wind industry leaders, including Siemens Wind Power and Vestas.
To fill the need for a lifelike training facility, a state could recruit an experienced firm such as Maersk to build a privately-owned training facility, or the state could establish a public-private partnership. Through a partnership, a state could create the North American Offshore Wind Training Academy—a one-stop training facility that offers hands-on training in life-like settings. The academy could focus on key areas, such as safety. The training could cover the GWO’s Basic Safety Training Standard’s five modules: first aid, manual handling, fire awareness, working at heights, and sea survival. The facility can also serve as the center for hands-on training for wind energy technicians, wind tunnel technicians, wind turbine technicians, wind turbine erectors, and wind turbine mechanics. Full-scale training facilities could make a state a global leader in offshore wind training and grow the local offshore wind economy.