Two workers examine a solar panel

Renewable energy training is getting a boost in Queensland and New South Wales with new training facilities receiving funding.

The Queensland Government has given the green light to a state-of-the-art renewable energy training facility at Pinkenba for the electrical industry.

Queensland Deputy Premier and Planning Minister, Steven Miles, said this is a great example of the State Government’s commitment to reaching its 50 per cent renewable target by 2030.

“As Planning Minister, I have approved a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation for the Pinkenba Renewable Energy Training Facility,” Mr Miles said.

“The specialised training facility will provide pre-trade, apprenticeship and post-trade courses for up to 300 students at a time and support 40 teaching positions.  

“While we’re investing in renewable energy projects throughout the state, it is also important we invest in our workforce to deliver and maintain renewable energy infrastructure.

“The Ministerial Infrastructure Designation process will enable Electro Group to start construction and welcome students as soon as possible.

“Accelerating construction of infrastructure that benefits the community and creates jobs is part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.”

The Queensland Government is investing $17 million towards the $23 million facility. 

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said, “Meeting our renewable energy target relies on having a pipeline of skilled Queenslanders ready to build and operate the energy infrastructure a growing industrial state needs.

“That’s exactly what the Pinkenba Renewable Energy Training Facility will deliver, with electrical, solar and telecommunications training to be offered to hundreds of Queenslanders each year.

“This facility will ensure our electrical industry is up to the challenge as new renewable energy technology opens up more opportunities for global investors in Queensland.”

Electro Group CEO, Donna Pickford, said that construction is set to start in September 2021.

“Our facility will provide electrical workers with classroom learning and out in the field training, which will feature a 17m high wind turbine, a 20m high climbing tower, a 30m telecommunications tower and a 54kw single axis tracking solar system,” Ms Pickford said.

“Being able to provide both current and future electrical workers with this hands-on experience will mean they’ll be fully equipped to take on the jobs of tomorrow.

“We’re excited to be moving forward with this project and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first students in mid-2022.”

The facility received approval through the MID process, which is an alternative development process for the delivery of community infrastructure, including education facilities.

As part of the MID process, Electro Group sought feedback from a range of key stakeholders, including the council and the local community.

$5 million centre for future grid research in NSW

In New South Wales, the University of Wollongong (UOW) has been awarded $5 million funding as part of the Federal Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Program. 

The program will fund $36.4 million into eight new research hubs and $37.8 million for eight new Training Centres to commence operations, with UOW receiving funding for a training centre in Energy Technologies for Future Grids.

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jennifer Martin (Research and Innovation), said the funding will help deliver world-class industry-linked research into renewable energy and boost Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.

“The new training centre will deliver solutions to complex issues that create barriers to Australia’s transition to a clean energy future which is sustainable, cost effective and environmentally friendly,” Professor Martin said.

Federal Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, said the projects will create stronger research and industry connections in areas including energy, biomedical technology and agriculture.

“These facilities will bring together finest research minds and leading businesses to tackle the key strategic challenges facing our nation, our region and the world,” Mr Tudge said.

“They will ensure we are getting the most out of our world-class research while transferring that information into real-world outcomes that will help our post-COVID economic recovery and strengthen our nation.

“The training centres will also equip our future generation of researchers by giving students and postdoctoral researchers practical skills and experience through industry placements.”

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