Power in Sails of New Training Centre; as Europe Strives to Meet Its Renewable Energy Generation Targets, There Will Be a Need for Skilled Workers. This Is Where the Newcastle-Based Siemens Energy Service Training Centre Comes in. Ahead of Its Opening, JOHN HILL Talks to the Company

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THE country is on the verge of the next phase of wind energy.

The new schemes could potentially provide up to quarter of the UK's electricity within years. f-da n So it stands to reason that we're going to need quite a few people that know how these giant wind projects work, and crucially how to maintain ets n and fix them.

y m-"With our centre, we're definitely trailblazing in the UK", says Graham Hartley, the director of Siemens' Energy Service. "There's no one in the country that can offer this level of skills and investment in one place."

t-He's talking about the Siemens Energy Service Training Centre, the Newcastle --centre for high-quality fossil and renewable energy training. d Around pounds 8m has been spent over the last few years to create a top-class training facility for Siemens wind technicians around the country, as well as fair few apprentices looking to develop skills in a growing sector. es-a p The Wallsend facility will be officially launched on Tuesday, November -r 22, in the presence of Lord Willis of Knaresborough. f A fossil power training facility with steam and gas turbines was opened in 2007, while the wind power training element arrived two years later. Siemens continues its traditional work in the fossil sector, with projects such as an turbine modernisation operation at Drax which reduced its carbon footprint by a million tonnes. hng. kh-n Hartley says: "Principally, it's a dedicated integrated training school. It's bringing new people into the business and training them in the right way, as well as putting people through refresher training. -sss-"We have around 150 young people studying for apprenticeships at one time, and we have a very close partnership arrangement with Tyne Metropolitan College. It has to be an integrated part of the North East, for people both locally and further afield." ee---rr Siemens reports strong competition for places at the centre, with hundreds of applicants for just a few places. In 2010, Siemens launched its wind power service technician offering with RenewableUK, and has tripled its intake on the programme from 12 to 37 this year, split between Lincoln, Carnegie and Tyne Metropolitan Colleges. There is also training available for up to 500 newly hired employees year on either wind, steam or gas turbines, and 350 people have been trained to date in the wind power field since 2009. ns ndh-7-ra s nd So what's on offer at the centre? The facility features 15 classrooms fitted with smartboards and wifi, while there are dedicated areas featuring steam and gas turbines for fossil power. ede m The wind power training bay features two large training towers, an engineering training area and a 2.3MW nacelle, which is the cover housing that contains key parts of the turbine such as the generator and the gearbox.

-n Wge-Hartley says: "Clearly there's a lot of focus on the wind business, but we also have a robust fossil business, f e, which we cater for with the gas and steam turbine training.

"We run a couple of bespoke hydraulic courses and electrical fault finding courses. Essentially, the training centres try to replicate the type of conditions they expect to see out there. …