The offshore wind energy industry is growing so rapidly that the only way to keep up is with new innovative technologies. The students of the European Wind Energy Master try to solve these challenges and are undergoing preparation to become the niche engineers the industry needs. This article intends to identify crucial developments in the offshore wind industry from a student perspective.
The main driving force behind the ongoing growth of the wind industry is upscaling of the capacity of the wind turbines and the rapidly dropping price per kilowatt. This is due to an ecosystem where large companies are present to carry the momentum and challenge each other to drive down the price through healthy competition. But it is equally important that the large corporations do not stifle smaller enterprises. There should be room for start-ups to cause disruption and acceleration in new technologies.
The development that is happening in Europe is essential to the role that Europe has and wants to play in the future. Established programs, like the European Wind Energy Master, underlines a commitment to continuing the role of Europe as the world leader in wind turbine technology. For example, the floating wind turbines developed here can prove a major step forward in installing large capacity offshore wind farms along coastlines with deeper waters such as in Japan and the Americas. China and Taiwan are also new players looking to make strides in the market. As the cradle of wind energy – especially offshore wind – Europe should focus not only on the export of wind turbines, but also on their export of expertise and smart solutions. Global collaborative projects might mark the way forward.
This current growth of the wind industry is unprecedented, and ambitious experts in the field are required to overcome arising challenges. To maintain the supply of high end and ambitious experts, a close connection between the industry and academia is essential. The role of universities in this market should be to provide the industry not only with a better quality of specialised engineers, but also in greater numbers to meet the growing demand. It is up to the universities to formulate an education with the notion that most conventional solutions will not resolve all the future challenges.
Overall, the offshore wind sector is experiencing a thriving growth with low tender prices and government push for renewable energy. But to continue this growth rate, it is important for the industry to keep pushing for new innovations. Here, the tightening of the relations between the offshore industry and the education is of crucial importance.