Accelerating Ocean-Based Renewable Energy Educational Opportunities to Achieve a Clean Energy Future

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The United Nations has named 2021-2030 the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development with goals to 'strengthen the international cooperation needed to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society' (IOC 2019 The science we need for the ocean we want: The United Nations decade of ocean science for sustainable development (2021-2030) (Paris) p 24). Important actions that have been identified in support of sustainable development goals include capacity-building, training, and education. This includes educational opportunities for ocean-based renewable energy development in support of a healthy planet and ocean. Offshore wind is experiencing rapid development globally and, while the U.S. offshore wind market is still nascent, it is on the brink of exponential growth based on large cost reductions driven largely by European development and technology advances. Growth is also expected in wave and tidal energy with significant opportunities identified for various distributed markets through the Powering the Blue Economy™ initiative, with longer-term implications for expansion at the utility scale (LiVecchi et al 2019 Powering the blue economy; exploring opportunities for marine renewable energy in maritime markets p 207). In order to expedite progress and maximize benefits to the national, state, and local economies, these development actions will require a broad, diverse, and appropriately trained workforce. The ocean-based renewable energy workforce needs engineers and scientists to develop cost-effective technologies, as well as trade and maritime workers to eventually deploy the technologies at scale. In the United States, educational institutions, state governments, and private developers are taking action to understand job skills and capability requirements and to develop educational and training programs to meet offshore workforce needs; most are focused on offshore wind power, with gaining interest in marine energy. This article explores the workforce requirements of the growing ocean-based renewable energy industry and the current state of education and training programs to meet those requirements in order to identify gaps and make recommendations for further workforce development activities and initiatives. An international view needs to be adopted that incorporates the education and skill needs of early-stage marine energy technologies and evolving offshore wind technologies together with more market-ready offshore renewable energy markets. By accelerating educational development opportunities in ocean-based renewable energy, these growing blue economy markets can deliver significant economic and social benefits.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 042002
Number of pages17
JournalProgress in Energy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-77758


  • Blue economy
  • Education
  • Jobs
  • Renewable energy
  • Training
  • Workforce


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