Giant EPC says Australian utility-scale solar faces labor shortage – pv magazine International

Sterling and Wilson Solar have warned that Australia’s utility-scale solar PV industry faces a major labor shortage as the country shifts from fossil fuels to renewables.

From american magazine

Sterling and Wilson Solar have warned Australia that it faces a shortage of qualified talent to work on projects.

India-based EPC contractors have a global portfolio of over 11 GWp. Its Australian EPC backlog includes five major solar PV projects with a cumulative total of over 1.1 GW, including Neoen’s 400 MW Western Downs Green Energy Center in Queensland and the 174 MW Wellington Solar Farm developed by Lightsource BP in New South Wales.

It is also building the 162MW Colomboola and 120MW Gangarri solar farms in Queensland and the 150 MW solar component of the Port Augusta renewable energy park in South Australia for Iberdrola.

Sterling and Wilson Solar Australia managing director Philip Sheridan said labor shortages are one of the main challenges facing the industry and are straining the development of new farms. large-scale solar.

“Securing skilled labor is definitely an area that is proving difficult,” he said. “The problem is not unique to the renewable energy sector, but we are struggling to find the resources to maintain the projects and it is not only blue collar labor, but also white collar workers. And to be brutally honest, it’s only going to get worse.

The independent advisory group Infrastructure Australia has described the growing skills shortage as “a labor crisis in public infrastructure”.

In its first Infrastructure Market capacityAccording to this report, the group’s project managers will struggle to recruit skilled workers for one in three jobs in industry by 2023, the equivalent of 105,000 jobs. The shortage of qualified wind power engineers, power linemen, electricians and technicians is of particular concern to the clean energy industry.

Sheridan said the shortage of skilled labor had been a problem in Australia for many years and the pandemic had exacerbated the problem, with national and international border closures preventing the arrival of much-needed expertise in some projects. renewable energy. He also said the increase in size and scope of proposed large-scale solar projects has added an additional element to the equation.

“The pipeline of opportunities that we are aware of today with the targets being talked about for 2025 and 2030 and the types of projects we are seeing longer term, these are GW projects… the numbers are huge,” did he declare. . “The numbers we’re talking about, 10 GW, 15 GW… those are big setups. On paper, it looks very good in terms of opportunities, but it’s not just the project but how it’s going to be serviced. The industry really needs to change and evolve from where we have traditionally been to ensure they can be executed.

Sheridan said it is up to the industry to adapt to the circumstances, pointing to opportunities to develop modular building techniques and increase offsite construction to potentially reduce the onsite labor component.

“We need to develop smarter ways to do these projects,” he said. “I think the less labor-intensive elements we can do on the ground, the less people we need on site. Simplifying some of the activities might make things easier.

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