The University of Delaware hosted its first offshore wind training program for professionals last week.
UD’s Offshore Wind Skills Academy drew participants from up and down the east coast and presenters from Europe. It covered topics such as wind farm site selection, grid connection and environmental permitting.
Willett Kempton is director of the Offshore Wind Skills Academy and a professor in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. He says last week’s training program was the first in the country to cater to its audience. “What we’re doing is more like training for managers, planners, executives. So it’s a broader view of the entire industry,” he said.
Kempton says offshore wind training opportunities are important on the east coast, where states have committed to develop several nuclear power plants-worth of offshore wind energy in the next decade.
“There’s maybe ... two hundred people or something working in the industry right now,” said Kempton. “So if you think about trying to build 15 nuclear power plant complexes in 10 years, you cannot do that with 200 people.”
“Of all of this range of states from Massachusetts to Maryland and the District of Columbia ... Delaware is the only one that has no requirement for offshore wind and has no role in this industry— until they decide to do something,” Kempton added.
There is currently only one operational offshore wind farm in the U.S. — Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Other projects are on the way, including the Skipjack Wind Farm in a federal leasing area off the coast of Fenwick Island, Delaware.
The Skipjack project, being developed by Deepwater Wind, was approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission. It will supply energy to Maryland, and is expected to have a generating capacity of 120 megawatts, or enough energy to power 35,000 homes. The project is expected to come online in 2022.
Kempton says UD’s Offshore Wind Skills Academy will be held roughly every six month and will cover different topics.