September 4, 2019

North American firms join to focus on safety as the wind turbine industry grows

Goal to optimize supply chain and source talent from certified training providers through contractors, owner operators and manufacturers to continuously improve core safety competencies.

North America’s leading wind power companies are joining together within the Global Wind Organisation (GWO), a non-profit focused on providing standardized safety training and emergency procedures across the industry worldwide.

Members of the GWO North America committee represent wind turbine manufacturers and owner operators including:

  • Brian Walencik – GE Wind, Onshore (Chair)
  • Gary Aucoin – Equinor
  • Karl Delooff – Acciona Energia
  • Adell Heneghan – E.On Climate & Renewables
  • Michael Hanson – GE Renewables – Offshore
  • Isabelle Le Beau – Enercon
  • Autumn Lewis – The Nordex Group
  • Dan Ortega – Vestas
  • Geoffrey Schmidt – Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
  • David Yang – Ørsted

A partnership of leading global companies, GWO is responsible for a portfolio of training standards designed for the industry, by the industry.

Training modules include Basic Safety Training (BST), Basic Technical Training (BTT), Advanced Rescue Training (ART), Enhanced First Aid (EFA) and Blade Repair, with new Rigger Signal Person training standard available October 1, 2019.

Training records are verified online through the GWO WINDA database, allowing companies to check the certification status of their employees and potential recruits.  

Brian Walencik, chairman of the GWO North America committee and EHS Leader for GE Wind Onshore, says, “The wind turbine industry is growing as the demand for renewable energy is accelerating.  The challenge we all face is hiring qualified technicians who have recognizable safety training and technical skills so they can more efficiently and effectively help meet demand while reducing total injuries.”

Highlights of the growth of the wind turbine industry include:

  • In April, renewables eclipsed coal generation in the U.S. for the first time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates renewables outperformed coal by 16 percent in April.  Wind energy is now the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in Canada.
  • Approximately 11 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2019 in the U.S., which is the largest amount of capacity installed since 2012.  The annual growth rate of wind energy is 20 percent for the past 10 years in Canada.
  • The U.S. wind industry now employs a record 114,000 men and women, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  In Canada, the employment growth rate is similar.

Walencik adds, “The role of our committee is to determine the best ways to collaborate on standardized training and procedures to benefit the industry, training providers, our employees and contractors.  At the end of the day, the goal is simple:  Safety.”

Editors’ Notes:

GWO is a non-profit organisation of wind turbine owners and wind turbine manufacturers, committed to the creation and adoption of standardized safety training and emergency procedures. Independent training providers deliver GWO-certified training to delegates worldwide, with more than 80,000 people in 40 countries now trained to GWO standards.