It is an open access facility, designed to allow education and training providers to deliver academic and industrial training programmes for technicians working in the wind industry and at height, both onshore and offshore, Narec says.
Andrew Mill, CEO at Narec says: “The industry is predicting that technicians in their tens of thousands will be needed to install, operate and maintain new wind generating capacity offshore and the tower marks the first stage of the creation of a national training centre for the industry in North East England.”
Steve Clarke, UK Content Manager for Mainstream Renewable Power adds: “From internal modelling of construction, operation and maintenance regimes, Mainstream Renewable Power has been aware for some time of a looming skills gap at wind technician level.
“Understanding too that training and up-skilling are not instant processes, we’re delighted with the effectiveness of the partnership and the timing of the training initiative to effectively design, procure and construct the training tower.”
The wind turbine training tower is the result of a collaborative training partnership, backed by Regional Development Agency, One North East, between Northumberland College, Mainstream Renewable Power and Narec.
David Kidney MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, opened the wind turbine training tower. He said: “Fighting climate change and ensuring our energy security is a challenge, but it’s also a massive opportunity - an opportunity for skills, jobs and investment. Research and development, and giving people the skills to build offshore wind farms will be vital to keeping the UK ahead of the world.”
Offshore Wind Accelerator extended
Kidney also announced a major extension of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator programme worth up to £4.8 million.
The Offshore Wind Accelerator is a research and development collaboration between the Carbon Trust and leading offshore wind developers that focuses on developing technologies that have real potential to cut the cost of future offshore wind farm developments.
Kidney said: "As we build larger wind farms, in deeper waters, further from shore, we must work with industry to find and develop vital new technologies. The funding I’m announcing today will help companies drive down costs and share resources, which will benefit the entire industry here in the UK."