When growth gives way to subsequent supply, it’s a good news story for most industries. The South African wind energy is no different and it is particularly the sector’s skills development and ensuing demand by wind turbine manufacturers and wind farms that have seen a massive upswing.

A recent virtual event among others celebrated the graduation and subsequent employment of the fifth group of certified wind turbine service technicians (WTST) trained by South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) and which is hosted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town.

The event: Bolstering SA Energy: SARETEC-trained wind turbine service technicians enter the marketplace featured a number of high-profile speakers and placed the spotlight on the importance of skills development within the country’s renewable energy sector.

Highlighting the critical need for WTSTs in the coming years, Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) said to meet the goal of Integrated Resource Plan of 2019 (IRP 2019) which aims to deploy 1.6 GW of new wind capacity yearly from 2022 onwards, 192 new WTST will have to be trained on an annual basis to match the deployment schedule.

Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships at CPUT indicated that SARETEC will be training 135 technicians in the coming three years and selection for WTST group 7 is already under way.

The virtual event featured addresses by:
• Dr. Ayodele Odusola, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP);
• Dr Diane Parker, Deputy Director-General, University Education at the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET);
• Nomawethu Qase, Director Renewable Energy at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE);
• Professor Chris Nhlapo, Vice-Chancellor of CPUT;
• Dr. David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships at CPUTCPUT;
• Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of SAWEA;
• Angelina Mohanpersadh, Economic Development Manager of Goldwind; and
• Henk Volschenk, Training Supervisor at SARETEC.

To date, SARETEC has successfully trained students enrolled in the WTST 1 to 4 programmes with support from GIZ, the wind industry and Denmark. The training of the WTST 5 and WTST 6 groups was sponsored by the South African Wind Energy Project Phase 2 (SAWEP) which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implemented by the DMRE and supported by the UNDP SA country office and the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

The R3.4 million SAWEP sponsorship was allocated towards the 24 students over a period of seven months which included five months at SARETEC and two months’ workplace training at an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) wind turbine supplier. The funds also provided a stipend to students during their training.

WTST is a globally sought-after qualification which trains specialised technicians to work on wind turbines undertaking construction, maintenance, service, fault finding and repairs.

SARETEC is currently the only training centre in SA equipped to offer the seven-month WTST qualification which is accredited at the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 5. SARETEC has also obtained necessary accreditation from the Quality Council for Trades and Occupation (QCTO); this means that the WTST qualification is recognised throughout South Africa and internationally. The WTST 7 qualification is also supported by the Manufacturing and Engineering Related Skills SETA (MerSETA).

The full Bolstering SA Energy: SARETEC-trained wind turbine technicians enter the marketplace virtual event can be accessed by clicking here.


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