The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has released a report focusing on the job market and workforce needs in the wind energy sector. The Global Wind Workforce Outlook 2021-2025 highlights that with the global wind industry accelerating, job opportunities across the supply chain are also growing. In keeping with this growth rate, nearly half a million workers have to be trained to meet the expanding wind market needs over the next five years, the study states.
In 2019, Global Wind Organization (GWO) partnered with the GWEC to highlight the importance of safety, training, and job creation to power wind energy deployment and the global energy transition. The report concluded that a trained workforce of 77,000 people would be required to build and operate the projected installations in the six target markets by 2024.
The new study by GWEC, GWO, and Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) builds on the earlier work and suggests that more than 480,000 trained workers meeting GWO standards will be needed to construct, install, operate, and maintain the world’s onshore and offshore wind energy fleet due to be installed between 2021 and 2025.
Of these, 340,000 human resources personnel will be needed in just the ten target countries detailed in the report.
The report also states that there is a significant untapped opportunity for the training and industrial education supply chain across all markets.
At present, the GWO training market can support the training needs of 150,000 workers by the end of 2021, while the number is expected to go up to 200,000 by the end of 2022.
The analysis forecasts that the sector is expected to install 348 GW of new capacity and grow at a compounded annual rate of 8.5% between 2020 and 2024. Per an earlier GWEC prediction, the sector would need at least 280,000 more trained workers in the next five years.
Forecast capacity installations and number of people requiring new training (2021-25)
In addition to the global forecast for training needs, the report also examined the training demands of ten countries, namely Brazil, India, Vietnam, Japan, the United States, China, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.
The markets analyzed in the report were selected for regional diversity as well as spanning the largest onshore wind markets globally (the U.S. and China), high-growth markets for onshore and offshore wind (Brazil, India, Vietnam, and Japan), and emerging wind markets (South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco).
The training needs in these target countries comprise 70% of the global wind energy workers requiring training over the next five years.
Elaborating on the prediction, GWEC Chief Executive Officer Ben Backwell said, “What these ten countries share is common need and opportunity. There is the need to expand existing workforces to build, operate, and maintain mega-size renewable energy projects safely, knowledgeably, and efficiently. GWO and GWEC jointly foresee the requirement to scale up global training capacity to ensure the industry continues to deliver on time and with high performance. Standards and proper training are essential to protecting health and safety as a core principle of industry growth, allowing wind energy to attract new talent and safeguard its reputation as a sector of choice.”
Forecast capacity installations and number of people requiring new training in training countries (2021-25)
The study also notes that without a system of safety standards that address wind energy’s unique risk profile, employers may be forced to improvise or adapt training from other industries or import their programs at a considerable expense.
In April this year, GWEC had stated that 3.3 million new wind-powered jobs could be created globally over the next five years owing to major industry expansions. The figure includes direct jobs in both onshore and offshore wind and covers the entire value chain of the sector from project planning and development, manufacturing to installation, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of projects.
The latest report suggests that the massive workforce would need to be trained to the GWO standards if the estimated 470 GW capacity is to be developed safely.
Is India prepared?
The Global Offshore Wind Report 2020 by GWEC had expressed apprehensions on India meeting its offshore and onshore wind energy targets by 2022. An earlier GWEC study had also mentioned that the installations of wind projects in India had decelerated, with only 2.3 GW installed in 2019.
Commenting on the recent scenario in the Indian market, the study mentions that while wind installations’ growth has slowed in the country, it remains one of the top markets globally for onshore wind, with 38.6 GW of capacity. Over the next five years, more than 20 GW of additional capacity is forecast to be installed, including the first 100 MW of offshore wind by the middle of the decade.
Pointing out that the Indian government is targeting a 40% renewable energy share in the power mix by 2030, including 140 GW of onshore and offshore wind capacity, the study stated that this would require the country’s current operational wind inventory to scale up 3.5 times.
The report, however, mentions that in 2020, India only installed around 1.2 GW of wind energy due to significant challenges around grid availability, land allocation, and signing power sale agreements.
The report stresses that the degree to which these issues are resolved will determine how close India can get to its wind targets this decade. A stretch target of 63 GW cumulative capacity by 2025 is achievable if new strategies are put in place and the active pipeline is commissioned on schedule and greater installations come from the commercial and industrial sectors. Regular hybrid tenders of wind, solar, storage, and continued auctions for pure-play wind will also be needed to sustain wind growth, especially after the Interstate Transmission System charge waivers expire in 2023.
Last year, it was highlighted at a GWEC seminar that India’s corporates could play a key role in adding 25 GW of renewable energy by 2023.
India’s scalability and strong track record of manufacturing capacity have made it one of the critical export hubs for wind components and services in the Asia-Pacific region, the report said. Its domestic supply chain is extensive, making India one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wind gearboxes and the largest wind turbine production base in the region after China.
Continued investments in India’s wind supply chain from leading international original equipment manufacturers will make wind energy a key sector under the current administration’s ‘Make in India’ manufacturing program and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative for self-reliance, noted the study.
In India, cumulative wind power installations reached 38.6 GW as of December 2020.
Srinwanti is a copy editor at Mercom India, where she writes and edits news stories across the clean energy spectrum. Prior to Mercom, she has worked in book publishing at Macmillan Publishing House and Integra and honed her editorial and writing skills in both online and print media such as Reuters, Times Group Books, The Times of India, and Pune Mirror, covering local to international stories. More articles from Srinwanti Das.