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Learning deal will support offshore wind farm workforce

by Mark Cantrell
RWE's Sofia Offshore Wind Farm and Newcastle University sign a memorandum of understanding to support development of a skilled offshore wind workforce

Energy firm RWE and UK academics have agreed to support the development of a skilled offshore wind workforce that will bolster the emerging industry.

Newcastle University has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company’s Sofia Offshore Windfarm project that will see the two enter into a learning partnership.

The aim is to support the growth of offshore wind power’s expansion and support innovation in the sector.

Sofia, currently under construction, is a 1.4GW windfarm, located 195km from the North East coast on Dogger Bank in the North Sea. The site itself is 593km square.

With a landfall in Teesside, situated between Redcar and Marske-by-the-Sea, an offshore construction facility at the Port of Blyth, and an operations and maintenance base in Grimsby, the availability of a local skilled workforce is vital to the operation, throughout its lifecycle.

The MoU, formally signed at Newcastle University’s Marine Station at Port of Blyth is intended to l build on the partners’ successful existing collaboration, which has included student dissertations; hands-on grid-related workshops; support of STEM careers awareness events and subject-specific guest lectures and seminars within the university’s programmes.

Kim Gauld-Clark, Sofia senior consents manager, who signed the MoU on the project’s behalf, said: “We are pleased to formalise our collaboration with Newcastle University, and look forward to continuing to work together on a wide range of student-focussed initiatives that will provide experience and insights into the expanding offshore wind sector and its many career paths.”

The agreement will see the university and offshore wind farm partner across a number of areas. They include:

  • Widening awareness of offshore wind and Net Zero careers, and providing education and skills activities related to sector’s skills needs to increase the diversity of the offshore wind workforce
  • To widen the visibility of offshore wind as a career. The two organisations say they will use this strategic learning partnership to support activities across multiple academic schools within the Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering, and beyond to benefit students on multiple programmes of study
  • In addition to student interactions, the parties will explore research, innovation and enterprise activities

Professor Stephanie Glendinning, pro-vice-chancellor, at the university’s Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering, said: “This partnership reflects our commitment to bridging academia and industry for mutual benefit.

“The collaboration with Sofia Offshore Wind Farm Limited, will go a long way towards helping us to equip our students with essential skills, promoting sustainable careers, and contributing to the region’s economic prosperity.

“The collaboration highlights our commitment to be a leader in the development of clean and affordable energy to all.”

Main image: Sofia’s Kim Gaul-Clark (left) and Newcastle University’s professor Stephanie Glendinning

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