A direct drive wind turbine

Renewable Energy Drives Need for Wind Turbine Industry Safety

Sept. 4, 2019
Accelerated growth in the renewable energy sector leads to standardized safety training.

A consortium of wind power companies are collaborating to provide standard safety training and emergency management for industry organizations across the globe.

Eleven representatives from North America are joining within the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) to reduce injuries in the growing renewable energies sector.

“The wind turbine industry is growing as the demand for renewable energy is accelerating," said Brian Walencik, GWO North America committee chair and EHS leader for GE Wind Onshore. "The challenge we all face is hiring qualified technicians who have recognizable safety training and technical skills so they can more efficiently and effectively help meet demand while reducing total injuries.”

Members of the GWO North America committee represent both manufacturers and owner operators. The task force includes:

  • Brian Walencik – GE Wind, Onshore (Chair)
  • Gary Aucoin – Equinor
  • Karl Delooff – Acciona Energia
  • Adell Heneghan – E.On Climate & Renewables
  • Michael Hanson – GE Renewables – Offshore
  • Isabelle Le Beau – Enercon
  • Autumn Lewis – The Nordex Group
  • Dan Ortega – Vestas
  • Geoffrey Schmidt – Siemens Gamesa
  • David Yang – Ørsted

Training standards are designed for the industry, by the industry. Modules include Basic Safety, Basic Technical, Advanced Rescue, Enhanced First Aid and Blade Repair, with new Rigger Signal Person training standard available Oct. 1, 2019.   Records are verified online through the GWO WINDA database, allowing companies to check the certification status of their employees and potential recruits. 

“The role of our committee is to determine the best ways to collaborate on standardized training and procedures to benefit the industry, training providers, our employees and contractors," Walencik commented. "At the end of the day, the goal is simple: Safety.”

Safety training is becoming more crucial to the industry as renewables eclipse coal generation in the United States for the first time. In April 2019, renewables outperformed coal by 16%, according to the Energy Information Administration. The industry employes 114,000 men and women, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

In Canada, wind energy is the lowest-cost option for electricity generation, according to the GWO. The country's annual growth rate of wind energy is 20% or the past 10 years.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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