Vestas Lyndhurst: A hub for wind energy jobs and training

On Monday 15 February, Yes 2 Renewables resumed our tour of Victorian communities and businesses that would benefit from growth in the renewable energy sector.

We hit the road to Lyndhurst in the outer south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne to visit the warehousing and training centre of world-leading wind turbine maker, Vestas.

Joining us on the tour was the local member for Dandenong and state government MP Gabrielle Williams.

IMG_6460
Gabrielle Williams MP joins Leigh Ewbank, Y2R coordinator at Vestas.

The Greater Dandenong region is a manufacturing hub for car parts and components. Yet with the closure of the state’s big automakers, Ford, Holden, and Toyota, over the next 18 months, the region is expected to experience a spike in job losses.

When it comes to new employment opportunities it will be new and emerging industries that offer a lifeline for communities such as Dandenong.

With the pressing need to decarbonise the global energy system, renewable energy is a sector destined for long-term growth. It will be a job creator over the coming decades.

“Vestas is the only global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind energy,” said Thom Murray, Vestas’ service director. “Wind is our business and our passion.”

V164 Installed at Østerild, Denmark (prototype)
V164 Installed at Østerild, Denmark (prototype)

According to Thom, the company had humble beginnings:

“The origins of the Vestas passion was first kindled in 1898 in a blacksmith shop in western Denmark, and we started producing wind turbines in 1979 for local agricultural use,” Thom explained.

“Since those early beginnings we have gained a market-leading position with more than 75 GW of installed wind power and more than 50 GW under service globally.”

(Thom also told us that Vestas manufactures one of the largest turbines on the market–a massive 8MW unit which can be viewed in this video)

Vestas’ Lyndhurst facility is a small part of the company’s global operations. But it’s ripe for expansion.

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Vestas warehouse millions of dollars worth of turbine components in Lyndhurst.

The Lyndhurst facility performs two critical functions: It’s used to calibrate wind turbines for installation and store spare parts used in maintenance.

Vestas turbines can be found at the Challicum Hills and Macarthur wind farms, as well as the Coonooer Bridge project which is currently in construction.

The Lyndhurst base is also home to the company’s Asia-Pacific training centre for wind turbine technicians.

Equipped with a nacelle (which contains the generator and gearbox, etc) simulator and classrooms, Vestas’ Lyndhurst base is where turbine technicians hone their skills. The firm’s wind turbine specialists often train technicians from as far away as Japan.

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Gabrielle Williams MP watches wind turbine technicians in training.

The Abbott government’s attack on the national Renewable Energy Target cost 2,500 jobs and saw investment collapse by 90 percent. The Federal Coalition’s decision to slash the RET by 20 percent curtailed the sector’s prospects.

It has been leadership from the forward-looking state governments of South Australia, Queensland, and the ACT that has helped the renewable energy sector weather tough times.

Vestas representatives welcome the prospect of an ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets in the Andrews government’s soon-to-be-released Renewable Energy Action Plan.

Lifting the level of ambition for Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets will create good jobs in Lyndhurst.

In September 2015, the Premier announced a baseline Victorian Renewable Energy Target of at least 20 per cent by 2020, but pledged to aim higher.

With a growing coalition of businesses, unions, community and environment groups supporting ambitious VRETs, the Andrews government can afford to aim high.

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