Between 1891 and 1918, Poul La Cour built electricity generating wind turbines with a generating capacity between 20 kW and 35 kW with hub height less than 10 meters. Up until the big Oil Crises in the 1970s, development of wind turbines was something only physicists or engineers would occasionally glance over. Only after many countries had a harsh wake-up call of how dependent they have become on fossil fuels, a healthy interest of other possibilities of energy generation appeared that furthered the development of the wind industry.
Now, when we talk about wind turbines, instead of imagining small, lonely, wind turbines in the middle of a desert, we can picture wind turbines up to 140 meters tall spinning by coastlines — or even floating turbines in middle of the ocean.
The need for renewable energy to create a significant share in total energy production and therefore, minimize the environmental impact of industrial activity has been promoted through many initiatives all over the world in international treaties and at a national level.
The thing is — wind is getting big. In a good way of course! In this industry there is a need not only for people who make turbines larger and larger, but also for people who manage all the phases of wind project realization, making sure not only that everything is up and running, but also that it is in line with local social and environmental values.
In many countries, the wind industry is developing so rapidly, that there is barely time for proper planning and project management, yet this is the key for the success of a project. Therefore, there is a growing need of qualified staff — wind resource assessment, logistics, site preparations, environmental impact assessments, among other things, and of course, someone who can coordinate all of these activities into one single wind farm project — a wind power project manager.
The Project Manager
There are a lot of places where it is possible to study management and that is an important part of any project, yet in the case of wind and all of its aspects, for a properly conducted wind power project there is need of a more specific knowledge.
In Sweden on a goaty… or rather windy island of Gotland, there is an Uppsala University branch of Campus Gotland where they have a Masters level (post-graduate) study program in Wind Power Project Management. Uppsala University was founded in 1477, and in 2015/16 was rated as the 81st best university in the world by the Times Higher Education.
As mentioned above, the Wind Power Project Management program acknowledges the complex nature of wind projects and the need of different academic fields for a fully functional wind industry, therefore it welcomes applicants from various fields, such as engineering, social and natural science, business and management.
The Wind Power Project Management program is a one-year long master studies course that is a synthesis of technical subjects that focuses on subjects ranging from aerodynamics and power systems of a wind turbine, to management subjects, which emphasize the importance of planning tools, relevant legislation, and finances.
A more detailed study outline can be seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Program study scheme.
In the field of wind power, this wide-scoped program keeps up with current industry trends using relevant software — WindPro, WindSim and others — and also provides case studies of successful and not so successful wind farm projects already completed and online. Most importantly, the study program keeps in touch with the industry by providing several guest lectures from specialists of the field, and many of those guest lecturers are graduates of the program.
In addition, the program is held in English and is one of the Uppsala University international study programs, so students attend from all over the world!
Learn more about the program here.