Our Training section contains information on the existing wind power education and training programs in China. See our list of Universities for an overview of universities featuring special wind power degree programs, offering wind power-related courses or active in research and development. Refer to Technical Training for details on basic and advanced training programs for operation & maintenance technicians as well as other wind power industry personnel. Click e-learning for a sneak peak at our Wind Power Basics and Advanced Level online/blended learning programs (please note: these programs are still under development!).
See below for an introduction to wind power training in China. For navigation please click the categories on the left.
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Human Resource Needs and Wind Power Education & Training in China
For project developers and operators in the wind industry the economic success of wind power projects is heavily reliant on the qualification and skills of their employees. From personnel involved in wind resource assessment and micrositing of turbines, via engineers overseeing construction and grid integration to management, maintenance and troubleshooting of the wind farm during operation, the profitability of the project is dangling on the string of staff qualifications.
The same applies to manufacturers in the wind industry, since the quality and reliability of wind turbines is a major factor determining the energy output of wind farms and thereby their financial viability. In order to ensure a reasonable return on investment and reduce risks due to low wind turbine availability or turbine breakdowns, banks and insurance companies have become stricter with regard to standards and requirements. This is true for certification of materials and products, processing techniques and testing standards and affects enterprises at all stages along the value chain. Quality control and management are of crucial importance in every aspect of wind power equipment manufacturers’ ventures, from initial research and design processes, via testing procedures to mass production. Off-shore wind power generators are exposed to even higher mechanical loads and adverse environmental conditions than turbines on land, therefore demanding even higher standards.
A wide range of qualified personnel with technical, legal as well as economic knowledge is needed in order to meet the high requirements of the wind industry at all stages of the value chain. Employees have to apply their knowledge in order to be able to innovate products and processes, to identify problems and solve them independently. Only companies with skilled personnel and qualification schemes in place to advance the knowledge base of their employees in order to keep up with technological innovation, will be able to survive in an ever more competitive industry. For that reason, qualification is of central importance to all companies in the wind power sector.
In late 2006, Paolo Fernando Soares, Chief Executive Officer of China operations of foreign-owned wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon, stated “Human Resources is the most important aspect of the Wind Power Business in China”. This assertion applies not only to domestic and foreign wind turbine manufacturers in China, but to the same degree to wind power project developers. The pace of wind power development in China has given rise to an enormous shortage in adequately qualified personnel. The dearth of personnel extends from technically proficient production workers, over engineers possessing the inter-disciplinary knowledge necessary for product development in the wind industry to skilled staff able to cope with the specific challenges arising during operation and maintenance of wind farms. Especially for the process of wind turbine design, but also for research, testing and certification, staff needs to be able to apply knowledge of a wide range of disciplines, demanding a comprehensive approach to education and training of wind industry personnel: from mechanical and electrical engineering, aerodynamics, structural analysis, statics, material science, computer control technology, power electronics, load measurement, to meteorology and more.
In order to assess the specific needs of the wind power industry in China with regard to human resources, within the scope of this study, the GTZ China Wind Power Project conducted a series of sample surveys. In cooperation with CEPRI and CWEA two polls were conducted at the China Wind Energy Exhibition 2008 in Shanghai and the Wind Power Asia 2008 in Beijing. In addition, CWEA and CEPRI tapped their extensive network of connections in the wind power industry, so as to get an overview over the present situation with regard to personnel supply and demand.
The surveys support the claim that lack of qualified staff presents one of the most important challenges to the wind power industry in China today. When asked about the potential barriers to wind power development in China, a shortage in personnel was named as the premier challenge. With regard to the question which qualifications are needed, answers have been spread widely reflecting the broad range of companies and job profiles in the wind industry. Wind turbine manufacturers as well as wind farm operators (power generation co.'s) are especially in need of technical personnel since it makes up around 60 to 70% of their employees; electrical and mechanical engineers are particularly sought after. Managers and IT professionals are a smaller but equally vital part of the workforce. An education focussed on wind power or experience in the field is a bonus, but not prerequisite, since personnel qualified in this regard is rare and demand for staff high.
Estimation of Employment of O&M Technicians in the Chinese Wind Power Sector
It is difficult to quantify the need for qualified personnel and training of the sector, because no aggregated data on employment and training exists. The surveys conducted are only of indicative value, since they do not cover all of the active companies. He Dexin, president of CWEA, conservatively estimated the total employment in the Chinese wind power sector in 2008 at 20.000 people (incl. suppliers). If the wind power market keeps expanding, the employment in the sector will grow along with it. For example, Goldwind, China’s biggest manufacturer, plans to increase personnel by more than 40% in the next two years. The number of technicians employed in customer services at wind turbine manufacturers and in operation and maintenance at wind farms will increase particularly fast, as more and more wind farms go into operation.
In order to make a rough estimate of the future development of employment, the diagram below offers an extrapolation of the future demand for O&M personnel in the Chinese wind power sector based on studies conducted by the German BMU, EWEA and GWEC. Applying the assumptions of aforementioned studies to the Chinese wind power sector - under a conservative scenario of 10 GW capacity additions per year - until 2020 the following picture of O&M employment in China emerges.
Following the ratio of wind power O&M technician employment from the BMU study (0,71 O&M-jobs per MW of cumulative capacity), the number of O&M (service) technicians employed in China would rise from around 16.000 in 2009 to 86.000 in 2020. Applying the assumptions of EWEA and GWEC to China (0,4 and 0,33 O&M-jobs per MW of cumulative capacity, respectively), resulting employment estimates are around half of the numbers mentioned above. Actual demand for personnel might even be higher, since experience indicates that labour productivity is significantly lower in China than in Germany. At the moment, it may be assumed that neither adequately qualified, nor a sufficient number of O&M technicians is in place at Chinese wind farms.
Estimation of Total Chinese Wind Power Sector Employment
Applying the GWEC ratio of 15 jobs created in the wind power sector per MW of capacity added the total employment in the Chinese wind power sector would be around 135.000 (excl. O&M technicians).
The GWEC estimate includes direct employment (WT manufacturing, component manufacturing, wind farm design, installation) as well as indirect employment (co.’s producing intermediates or components, providing services or sporadically working in wind-related activities. However, export and storage as well as the fact that part of the employment is not dependant on the production volume have apparently not been factored into GWEC’s equation. Assuming a growing manufacturing capacity and factoring in exports at an employment ratio of 12,5 wind power staff per MW produced
Wind Power Training in China
In order to be able to quickly solve emerging problems, service technicians need to be trained in monitoring, servicing and troubleshooting of wind turbines. At the same time, the demand for highly qualified personnel needed for R&D, wind turbine production as well as turbine quality control and extensive testing will rise as WTG manufacturers expand production capacity.
Similar to the situation in other countries with a rapidly evolving wind power industry, despite the fact that the wind power sector is in need of staff with integrated knowledge of a range of different scientific disciplines only very few vocational schools and university programmes in China address wind power specifically in their courses of studies. Graduates with a wind power-specific degree are extremely rare.
The Suzhou Training Centre of CWPP is the only wind power O&M technician training institution of its kind in China. More training institutions are in dire need in order to provide fundamental training in wind power technology, improve the trainees’ practical skills through hands-on practice and convey highly sought-after understanding of specific methodologies and procedures needed for wind turbine testing and certification. On the one hand, the expansion of wind power installations is pushed at a tremendous pace. On the other hand, power generation companies acting as wind power project developers and service companies do not have the experience or the infrastructure necessary to provide adequate training and further education of their staff. This is why they are in need of external support.
A vast majority of companies in the wind power industry relies on internal training in absence of adequate alternatives. Many wind power equipment manufacturers have established basic wind power knowledge courses in order to introduce job starters to the wind power fundamentals needed for the specific job profile. Joint design or licensing agreements of domestic manufacturers with foreign companies may open up the road to conduct internal training profiting from the experience of their technology partners.
Needless to say, this type of training is regularly restricted to the conveyance of a narrow scope of knowledge and skills, most often focussing on manufacturing processes. The training by foreign partners is limited to the training and/or technology transfer that is defined in contracts, and will usually not expand the knowledge base of the recipient significantly, let alone improve the indigenous innovation capacity. Therefore, wind power-specific education at vocational schools and universities to equip future employees with the necessary knowledge from the start as well as external short- to medium-term training complementing internal training activities is urgently needed.
Foreign-owned companies often have the advantage of long-term experience and a base of well-qualified personnel in their country of origin. Tapping this reservoir through training of Chinese employees abroad or on location in China, can contribute to alleviating the problem of lack of qualified staff, but in the long run is not sufficient to meet demand.
In summary, demand for personnel with wind power-specific qualifications is large and rapidly expanding, as the Chinese wind industry is growing. Competition for staff with a wind power degree or experience in the field is fierce. Considering the importance of qualified personnel for healthy sustained growth of the wind power sector, the need for action to establish adequate educational and training programs is urgent.