About EUREC’s strategy to develop the right skills for the energy transition
EUREC, the association of European renewable energy research centres, has been leading several projects to support the development of human resources to enable a prompt transition towards a sustainable energy system.
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European Master in Renewable Energy
Since 2002, EUREC has been coordinating a European Master in Renewable Energy , whose objective is to train post-graduate students to fulfil growing industry demand for specialised renewable energy expertise. The three-semester Master programme is taught in nine universities around Europe (Carl-von- Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany; Hanze University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands; IST Lisbon, Portugal; Loughborough University, UK; MINES-ParisTech, France; National Technical University of Athens, Greece; Northumbria University, UK; Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain; and Université de Perpignan, France). It aims to equip students with technical skills integrated with knowledge of technological, strategic, social and economic issues. The students can specialise in one of several subjects: wind, PV, solar thermal technologies, ocean energy, grid integration, or sustainable fuels for transport.
Knowledge Centre for Renewable Energy Jobs
In 2014, together with other European associations working in the field of renewable energy (Bioenergy Europe, ESTELA, EGEC, Assorinnovabili, OEE), EUREC launched the Knowledge Centre for Renewable Energy Jobs , creating an online platform to provide job intelligence to industry, candidates and academic and training institutions. This was done alongside an analysis of the skills needed by the industry to ensure that the education and training courses provided are tailor-made to the sectors’ needs.
In the clean energy transition, it is acknowledged that new areas of activity will emerge, while others will disappear or be transformed to adapt to the fastevolving energy environment. EUREC has, therefore, developed the Knowledge Centre for Renewable Energy Jobs to:
- Identify areas where skills need to be updated or acquired to help reduce skills gaps and skills shortages in the renewable energy sector
- Identify skills that are transferable from traditional sectors to the new renewable energy sectors
- Develop training recommendations to reduce the knowledge and competence gap in the renewable energy sector.
The data collection, both of industry needs and workers’ competencies, was carried out on the basis of surveys specifically targeted at the two groups, and via specific interviews with selected industry representatives and candidates. A screening and analysis of the most wanted profiles was also published regularly, in order to highlight the type of competencies most wanted per sector. (See Figure 1)
KnowRES project results
The results of the KnowRES project2 highlighted the need for engineers and technicians equipped with Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills, but also for specialised profiles such as financial and legal specialists who understand the Renewable Energy sector in order to contribute to RE projects and deployment. Competencies in management, business, entrepreneurship, economics and finance need to be developed to complement technically-oriented education. A need for trainers and teachers is also forecast, to accompany the deployment of new programmes. Multidisciplinary programmes are identified as better suited to new jobs that cross occupational boundaries.
European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management
To address this challenge, EUREC, together with Hanze University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, and Università di Pisa, Italy, launched a new post-graduate Master programme in 2015, dedicated to Sustainable Energy System Management. The aim of the programme is to train a new generation of professionals with the interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and tools to make the energy transition happen. This programme focuses on the business and economic aspects of the energy system. It provides economic and management skills and the technical knowledge needed to lead the energy transition.
Living Lab approach for sustainable energy education
EUREC is always striving to support the adoption and introduction of new concepts and projects at European level which could further develop a strongly qualified workforce to support the transition towards a renewable-based energy system. Together with several of its members, EUREC recently developed the ‘Living Lab approach for sustainable energy education’ (LILA4SEE). The LILA4SEE concept builds on existing initiatives which focus on technical education in the area of renewable and sustainable energy, with a view to adding a multidisciplinary component, while testing and implementing innovative new aspects. This new approach will better train and re-train employees to respond to the complex challenges related to the transition towards a sustainable energy system. This needs a more holistic approach to succeed.
The core of the LILA4SEE concept is based on the setup and upgrade of living labs. Living labs are defined as physical environments where stakeholders from universities (professors and students from different disciplines), companies, research institutes, public agencies (e.g. at local level) and end-users of the technology, collaborate to create a strategy. The aim is to develop case-based modules (problembased learning and more), innovative courses and train-the-trainer strategies related to renewable energies in a real-life context. The implementation of such an approach will have a double impact:
- To upgrade the competence profiles of researchers and engineers for the energy transition
- To enhance the capacities of European universities