Educational programmes for offshore wind are in their infancy. Only a few years ago, optional modules and minors were available to train students for the rapidly growing offshore wind industry. The most important challenge for the Netherlands, now and certainly in the future, is the availability of sufficient trained students and professionals.
The wind industry is constantly innovating to generate cheaper electricity. It is therefore important that the educational programmes are in line with recent insights and technologies. In addition to the further development of the existing range of offshore wind courses at MBO and HBO level, there is a need for specialist courses that are organised and developed in cooperation between educational institutions and the industry on five specific themes. In addition to educational innovation, the market needs applied and scientific research in cooperation with partners and knowledge institutions.
OWIC wants to offer a structural solution. To this end, we want to start three initiatives:
The purpose of this facility is to make the connection between mbo-hbo-wo and industry in the Northern Netherlands, in order to develop specialist courses for the various levels of education and experience and to further develop existing educational modules and electives. There is a strong need to reduce the distance between SMEs and (student) researchers. The key is that all of this is demand-driven from the SME and makes use of innovative technology such as online learning forms and virtual digital twins.
Updating existing education programmes is essential to keep in touch with relevant developments in the offshore wind sector. Through research and inventory of innovations, educational programmes can be continuously updated and renewed in cooperation with the industry.
There is a need to apply innovative educational technology such as the use of VR and the development of digital twins. Renewing and improving educational programmes contributes to attracting students and lateral entrants to a career in the offshore wind sector. New Energy Coalition is the pivot of energy education at all levels in the Northern Netherlands. With for instance the Energy College (mbo) and the Business School (hbo/wo), New Energy Coalition will also take up this role as a connector for offshore wind. Experience has already been gained with the Offshore Wind Orientation Course together with Noorderpoort, Groningen Seaports and NNOW, in which 100 students from all levels (MBO, HBO, WO and lateral entrants from the business community) participated.
Several educational institutions involved are conducting relevant research into offshore wind O&M. The research is initiated from a need and demand in the market, fits within the five subthemes and involves students for subprojects. Each research project has partners from SMEs and industry to provide solutions to complex O&M challenges. In OWIC, the business development activities and structural consultation between SMEs and researchers from educational institutions stimulate the initiation of new relevant research in the field of Cable Maintenance, Bolting, Remote Operations & (Predictive) Maintenance, Rotor Blades and Energy Generation, Storage and Balancing.
The AIRTuB project aims to optimise wind turbine blades by developing an autonomous and remote-controlled maintenance technology. Using a drone, wind turbine blades can be inspected when it is really necessary. This ties in with the experiences gained in work package 6, sub-theme 3 Remote Operations & (Predictive) Maintenance.
The Universities of Applied Sciences in cooperation with project partners Stork, Stopaq and TNO intend to start a research project into a sustainable and low maintenance method for offshore wind bolting. In many offshore wind farms, there are challenges with bolted connections during their lifetime and this is a labour-intensive part of the maintenance work. This ties in with the experiences gained in work package 6, sub-theme 2 Bolting.
The MARS4Earth project aims to develop the first autonomous and modular air manipulator that physically interacts with the outside environment in a safe, autonomous, efficient and cost-effective way. In essence, the air manipulator acts as 'arms and hands in the air'. This ties in with the experiences gained in work package 6, sub-theme 3 Remote Operations & (Predictive) Maintenance.
Within the OWIC project, the Mechatronics professorate will develop two demonstrators that will be demonstrated and validated in an operational environment. The level of current technologies of the current projects of MARS4Earth and Autonomous Sailing are TRL4-5. Within the OWIC project, the maturity of technologies would be further developed, integrated to a complete system and validated in operational environments. This also ties in with the experiences gained in work package 6, sub-theme 3 Remote Operations & (Predictive) Maintenance.