In an Australian-first, Federation University Australia is set to build a wind turbine training tower in Ballarat, giving students first-hand experience of working in the wind industry.

The tender for construction of the 23m tower has been released, with construction expected to start on the Mount Helen campus by July 2021.

The tower has been designed with ladders and safety equipment that will give students real-world experience when training to work in the wind industry, or other industries that require working at heights, such as construction and maintenance.

Vice-Chancellor and President, Federation University, Professor Duncan Bentley, said, “We want to make Federation University the leading training and research partner for the renewable energy sector in Australia – this new wind turbine training tower is an important step.”

The tower is the first stage of Federation University’s Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre, which has received $1.8 million in funding from renewable energy companies Vestas, Acciona, GPG and Tilt Renewables so they can train local workers in Victoria and increase the domestic talent pool instead of having to rely on international training providers.

Once the tower is completed, Federation TAFE will be the only training provider in Australia able to deliver the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) basic safety training and refresher training courses from a simulated wind turbine tower – delivering a real-world working at heights experience. GWO accreditation is a requirement for anyone working on a wind turbine in Australia or around the world.  

The second stage of the Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre will include a classroom, workshop and training equipment to deliver specialised training courses, such as wind turbine maintenance and blade repair.

It’s part of Federation University’s broader plan to become the leading training and research partner for Australia’s renewable energy industry.

Federation’s Ballarat campus is located at the gateway to wind farm developments across western Victoria, while researchers at the university’s Gippsland campus are working with energy companies in the Latrobe Valley on the transition from coal-fired power to green hydrogen energy.

As both a university and TAFE, Federation provides end-to-end solutions for the renewable energy industry – from developing the latest renewable energy research and technology, to training the technicians who will build and maintain it.

Pro-Vice Chancellor (VET) and Chief Executive Federation TAFE, Liam Sloan, said, “Industry spoke and we listened – with this new tower some of the industry’s biggest renewable energy companies can now train wind turbine technicians in Ballarat instead of using fly-in-fly-out workers.

“The Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre puts Ballarat and Federation University at the heart of Victoria’s growing renewable energy sector, which means more jobs and investment in our region, as well as cheaper and greener power.”

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