All About Wind Energy Apprenticeships
Wind energy, a form of renewable energy generated by harnessing the wind, is a rapidly growing sector.
In Australia, wind energy is one of the primary sources of renewable energy, generating enough electricity to meet 7.1 per cent of the nation's total electricity demand through its 110 wind farms.
The growth of the wind energy sector has led to an increased demand for skilled professionals in the field. As the industry continues to expand, there is a need for a workforce that is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to support this growth.
Apprenticeships play a crucial role in meeting this demand. They allow individuals to gain practical experience while learning about the industry. Apprenticeships also benefit the industry by ensuring a steady supply of trained professionals who can contribute to developing and maintaining wind energy infrastructure.
How Wind Technology Works
Wind technology harnesses the power of the wind to generate electricity. This is achieved through wind turbines, which convert the wind's kinetic energy into mechanical power. This mechanical power can then be used to drive an electric generator, which produces electricity.
Wind turbines are typically located in areas where wind speeds are high, such as hilltops or near the ocean. The design of the turbines allows them to capture the wind's energy most efficiently. The wind turns the blades of the turbine, which spin a shaft connected to a generator. The generator then converts this mechanical energy into electricity.
In addition to land-based wind turbines, offshore wind turbines float on the ocean's surface or mount giant pylons extending to the sea floor. Offshore wind turbines can capture more wind due to the higher wind speeds over the ocean, making them a valuable renewable energy source.
Another emerging concept in wind technology is 'airborne wind', which works like a giant kite. These systems use large kites, balloons, or drones tethered to the ground and fly at high altitudes where the wind is stronger and more consistent. As the airborne device moves in the wind, it pulls on the rope, which turns a generator on the ground to produce electricity.
Wind Energy in Australia
Wind energy is a significant player in Australia's renewable energy landscape. As of 2018, wind energy was one of Australia's leading renewable energy sources, generating enough electricity to meet 7.1 per cent of the nation's total electricity demand.
The number of wind farms in Australia is also noteworthy. By the end of 2018, 94 wind farms across the country delivered nearly 16 GW of wind generation capacity. In 2023, there are 110 wind farms strategically located in areas with high wind speeds to maximise energy generation.
One of the critical advantages of wind energy in Australia is its cost-effectiveness. Wind energy is one of Australia's lowest-cost sources of new electricity supply, along with utility-scale solar PV. The cost of utility-scale wind energy in Australia is expected to continue falling. New wind farms are expected to deliver electricity at around $50-65/MWh in 2020 and below $50/MWh in 2030. This makes wind energy a competitive and sustainable choice for electricity generation.
With its significant generation capacity and cost-effectiveness, it plays a crucial role in the country's renewable energy mix. It contributes to Australia's transition towards a more sustainable energy system.
The Importance of Wind Energy Apprenticeships
The growth of the wind energy sector has led to an increased demand for skilled professionals in the field. As the industry continues to expand, there is a need for a workforce that is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to support this growth. This is where wind energy apprenticeships come into play.
Apprenticeships are crucial in meeting the demand for skilled professionals in the wind energy sector. They allow individuals to gain practical experience while learning about the industry. This combination of hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge equips apprentices with the skills they need to succeed in the wind energy sector.
Pursuing a wind energy apprenticeship has numerous benefits. For one, it provides a pathway into a growing and sustainable industry. As the demand for renewable energy rises, so does the need for skilled professionals. This means that individuals pursuing a wind energy apprenticeship have many job opportunities.
Apprenticeships allow individuals to earn while they learn. Apprentices are paid a wage instead of incurring debt to gain a qualification. They gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the industry. This makes apprenticeships a financially viable option for many individuals.
Here are some traditional apprenticeships that align closely with the skills required in the wind energy sector:
- Mechanical Fitter Apprenticeship: Mechanical fitters are trained in assembling, installing, and repairing mechanical machinery, which is a skill directly applicable to maintaining and repairing the mechanical components of wind turbines.
- Electrician Apprenticeship: Electricians are skilled in installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems. This expertise is crucial in the wind energy sector, where technicians must manage the electrical systems within wind turbines, including wiring, circuitry, and troubleshooting.
- HVAC Technician Apprenticeship: While HVAC technicians primarily work on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, their understanding of mechanical systems, troubleshooting, and maintenance can be applied to the mechanical and climate control systems within wind turbines.
Wind energy apprenticeships are a valuable tool for meeting the demand for skilled professionals in the wind energy sector. They allow individuals to gain practical experience and theoretical knowledge while offering a pathway into a growing and sustainable industry. As such, they play a crucial role in supporting Australia's wind energy sector's growth and success.
The Role of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) plays a pivotal role in supporting the development and growth of wind energy projects in Australia. The agency aims to accelerate the global transition to net zero emissions by fostering pre-commercial innovation to benefit Australian consumers, businesses, and workers.
One of the critical ways ARENA supports wind projects is by focusing on initiatives that strengthen the security and reliability of electricity supply. This includes demonstrating that wind farms could provide vital services to help stabilise the grid. By investing in projects that enhance the grid's stability, ARENA is helping to ensure that wind energy can be a reliable and consistent source of power for Australia.
Another innovative approach ARENA supports is pairing wind farms with solar farms or energy storage systems, such as batteries. This approach allows for a more reliable supply of electricity, as it can help to balance out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. When the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, stored energy can be used to maintain a steady electricity supply.
The future of wind energy in Australia is bright. Australia is well-positioned to continue expanding its wind energy sector with its abundant wind resources and ongoing commitment to renewable energy. As the industry grows, so does the demand for skilled professionals to support this growth.
Apprenticeships play a crucial role in shaping the future of wind energy in Australia. By providing individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the industry, apprenticeships are helping build a workforce capable of driving the industry forward. They offer a pathway into the industry and provide a solid foundation for a rewarding and sustainable career.
For those considering a career in wind energy, there has never been a better time to get involved and consider a green apprenticeship pathway. The industry offers many career opportunities, and the potential for growth and advancement is significant.
Whether you're interested in the technical aspects of wind turbine operation, the strategic planning of new wind energy projects, or the policy and regulatory aspects of the industry, there's a place for you in the wind energy sector.