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Canberra Institute of Technology to launch Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence in 2016

Starting in 2016, the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) will provide cutting-edge training in renewable wind technologies through its Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence.

The Centre of Excellence, which is being developed in partnership with the Neoen-owned 100 MW Hornsdale Wind Farm and its local partner Megawatt Capital Investments, is expected to fill market gaps for skilled personnel and provide technical training for the maintenance and operation of existing large-scale, renewable infrastructure. Megawatt Capital Investments was recently awarded 50 percent of the ACT Government’s wind auction tender to supply wind energy to the ACT.

The Centre of Excellence’s high-tech facilities will be able to monitor over 100 wind turbines at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in real time. Students will be afforded the opportunity to work with large turbine components in order to develop critical hands-on training skills and work placement. The program will also expose students to the principles of renewable energy maintenance, engineering, and asset development and management.

‘The sky is the limit’ for renewable energy career opportunities

Fiona Dace-Lynn, Director of CIT Technology and Design, believes the Centre of Excellence will have a strong impact on CIT and the ACT in general, adding that skills in the wind energy sector continue to be in high demand. “Wind energy is a rapidly growing multinational industry. For people with the right qualifications and skills in maintaining and servicing turbines, the sky will be the limit in terms of career opportunities,” she said.

Dace-Lynn points out that, in addition to the high-quality training, students will be attracted to the Centre of Excellence by the abundantly available financial assistance options. Neoen will fund approximately 30 scholarships per year. The scholarship agreement is expected to attract 30 to 40 students per annum in nationally accredited wind energy programs, allowing graduates the opportunity to seek employment in the fast expanding regional renewable energy industry.  Organisations who partner with the Centre in the future are also expected to support initiatives for funding for scholarships.

Since the inception of the Centre of Excellence, CIT has been liaising extensively with a wide range of wind and solar farms located across the renewable energy rich Australian Capital Region. The ACT Government has announced a comprehensive investment framework for the development and growth of the renewable energy economy across the region, incorporating a strong focus on the role of vocational and higher education institutions. The investment framework goes hand in hand with the Territory’s 90% Renewable Energy Target. As an intermediate step on this ambitious path, the ACT will get 30% of its electricity from wind by the year 2017.

On-campus sustainability features – with plans for a solar microgrid

CIT plans to continue to enhance its existing high-tech facilities, which include a complex sustainable training hub that incorporates a number of sustainability features. These include efficient heating and cooling systems, high tech sustainable construction materials and building design, water cycle treatment facilities, and state of the art solar arrays with the addition of battery storage and testing facilities in partnership with Canberra-based company IT Power.

Further plans for a solar microgrid – which will power the CIT Bruce campus in a zero net carbon emissions environment – are currently under negotiation. CIT will also explore the application of testing berth facilities for further research and development partnership opportunities.

The facilities for the Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence will continue to be developed over the coming years – with a suite of educational programs and industry training options in mind. Many of these will be pilot programs for innovative technologies which have yet to reach the commercialisation stage. These will encompass a broad range of trade skills specific to renewable energy industries, project management, sustainability, environmental analysis, OH&S and risk management.

Top image via Neoen/Hornsdale Wind Farm

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