The offshore wind market has made massive progress as prices fall, farms get larger and technologies smarter and more efficient. All this is thanks to competent, skilled and creative people. As the demand for clean electricity grows, diverse workforces in terms of gender, background, discipline and culture will be a significant asset, says Jovana Filipovic, Senior Offshore Analyst at LM Wind Power
Anyone who works in offshore wind, or in the renewable energy sector in general, understands the constant push by our industry to reduce the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). I work everyday with colleagues, suppliers and customers to find new ways to make offshore wind more cost competitive through innovation and more efficient manufacturing processes. Behind these new ways of working is a common driver: I believe our industry should discuss more openly and more often the importance of having diverse teams of brilliant individuals of all genders, backgrounds, disciplines and cultures.
We have come a long way in our drive to reduce energy costs, but there is still more to do. Offshore wind is starting to play an increasingly important role in global energy production and this trend is only going to accelerate. The global offshore wind market should exceed 170 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative installed capacity by 2030, up from 22 GW in 2018. This increase reflects a remarkable 19% compound annual growth rate.
Europe aims to become a net zero emissions economy by 2050 and offshore wind will play an important role in that journey with an estimated 240-450 GW of installed capacity by then. China is catching up with Europe and new offshore wind markets are gaining strength in Taiwan, the US, India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil and Australia.
Offshore wind prices are already on a par with fossil fuels in certain countries and the further global development of the value chain will make offshore wind even more competitive in the future. As the industry consolidates and works to continue to reduce the LCOE, wind farms are getting larger and technologies smarter and more efficient, but none of this could happen without competent, skilled and creative people. And as the demand for clean electricity grows, offshore wind experts will need to team up with colleagues working on transport, heating, green hydrogen production and grid modernisation. A diverse workforce will be imperative to find effective and creative solutions to secure sustainable, clean and affordable energy for all.
Research shows diverse companies perform better because gender balance leads to more constructive dialogues and that industries expanding globally can better leverage cultural diversity and broader ethnicity.
The latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on gender shows that women make up around 32% of the renewable energy workforce globally. Their jobs are mainly administrative with only a limited number working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. IRENA estimates that the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector could increase from 10.3 million in 2017 to nearly 29 million in 2050. This growth is a unique chance to give equal opportunity to all genders and minorities to get involved in writing this important chapter in humankind’s history.
Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand, and embracing the full spectrum of diversity is high on LM Wind Power’s strategic and management agendas. We want a workplace where everyone feels valued. To truly change our culture, we started with awareness and transparency about where we are at and where we need to be. Formal initiatives, targets and examples set by leaders at the top of our business have been the most effective ways to increase the diversity of our teams.
We have set specific goals for 2019 and benchmarks to measure our progress. These goals mean that by the end of this year, we should have achieved a 5% increase in female employees in our plants, 50% of our trainees should be female, there should be at least one woman in the running for every open position and all of our leaders should trained to recognise unconscious bias. We are looking to introduce even more ambitious targets in coming years. In our 15 factories and business offices worldwide, we have empowered local teams to create initiatives that support our vision and roadmap with a diversity leader for every site and region.
And, we are bringing the topic to the forefront of discussions with customers and key stakeholders. At a Wind Energy Denmark event in October 2019, a quiz hosted by LM Wind Power’s Anette Papuga and Dorte Kamper on common myths and facts about diversity was an immediate hit with the audience, with many wanting to use the game in their own businesses. As a result, LM Wind Power will team up with Vattenfall and Ørsted to challenge the industry’s perception of bias and diversity by co-hosting the diversity quiz at WindEurope offshore event in Copenhagen on November 28, 2019.
I am proud to say our offshore and onshore wind commercial team within LM Wind Power is a role model of how diversity should be implemented and the value it creates. Within our team, we represent 12 different nationalities and have nearly a 50/50 gender distribution.
It is great to see LM Wind Power leading the way and we plan to continue to work in-house and with other companies and sectors to find the right people to create the valuable breakthroughs needed to ensure a timely clean energy transition.
The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy
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