One of the world’s largest offshore wind farms came a step closer to reality in recent weeks as suction-installed foundations for the project left their Irish shipyard to begin their journey to the site of the Dogger Bank wind farm, 125 kilometres off the UK’s east coast.
The structures, known as bucket foundations, can reduce costs as there is no need for transition piece costs or additional grouting as would be the case for more traditional foundations.
They are literally gigantic steel buckets that will sink solidly into the sea floor using a suction method and jetting systems, as opposed to floating or more conventional monopole, jacket or tripod foundations which are generally tethered to the seabed. –
Anni Podimata, VP of European Parliament
Unemployment is plaguing Europe, and just this week Anni Podimata, Vice President of the European Parliament told delegates attending EWEA’s 2013 Annual Event in Vienna that youth unemployment has reached “unprecedented levels.”
But despite the jobs crisis, one sector – wind power – said yesterday that it still needs to hire more than 5,000 workers per year in order to fill a considerable skills shortage in the industry.
“By 2030 there could be a skills gap of 15,000 workers if current hiring levels continue,” Andrew Garrard, Chairman of renewable energy consultancy GL Garrard Hassan, told journalists attending a press conference in Vienna. “We are going to 400 GW [of wind power capacity] by 2030 – and that takes a lot of people,” Henning Kruse from Siemens and Chairman of TPWind, added.
Around 2,000 jobs could be created every year up to 2050 in Wales, and €2.7 billion injected into the Welsh economy, if the Welsh government target for 2,000 MW of onshore wind capacity by 2025 is met, a new report by RenewableUK – an industry body – and the Welsh government claims.
However, if approval rates for onshore wind farms continue at the same pace as they have from 2001-2011, the total contribution to the Welsh economy would fall to €1 billion with only 1,000 jobs created per year.
“Without a significant shift in the consenting rate, and in the overall approach of planning policy in Wales to this sector, we will continue to be held hostage by rising fossil fuel prices and we will fail to meet our renewable energy ambitions with a corresponding missed opportunity to generate livelihoods for more than 2,000 people in Wales,” David Clubb, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said.
Wind energy is expanding across Europe – currently the continent has over 100 GW of wind energy capacity with levels set to rise as the EU continues on its path to a 20% share of renewable energy by 2020, but the expansion in the number of skilled workers the sector requires is not keeping up.
TPWind – wind energy’s research and development platform – is set to release new statistics at the European Wind Energy Association’s 2013 Annual Event in Vienna early February revealing just how deep the skills shortage runs today, and is likely to run in the future.
Engineers are in short supply, especially in operations and maintenance, the statistics will show.
Wind energy’s contribution to Belgian GDP has risen by 69% in four years (2007-2011), new findings show. This is a rate far higher than the growth of GDP itself, making wind energy a catalyst for Belgium’s economic recovery. The wind sector brought €335.3 million to the Belgian economy in 2011.
The figures come from a Deloitte study which also finds that national wind energy jobs have increased by 74% while the overall employment rate has gone up by just 3.7% (a figure 20 times lower) since 2007.