Several workforce challenges face the electric utility sector: aging utility workers, the large number of imminent retirements of utility engineers, a decline in power engineering educational programs, and faculty retirements in U.S. universities. At the same time there is a critical need to upgrade the curriculum of power systems engineering programs to address current and anticipated changes, specifically regarding clean energy technologies.
Launched today by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a new website for GEARED – Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment. As National Network Administrator of GEARED, IREC is helping facilitate and support efforts of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia (DTTC) created by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The goal is to build a national framework for power systems training and curriculum that will grow the power engineering workforce.
A year and a half into the five-year GEARED project, the partners are identifying and sharing best practices and industry workforce standards that will build the expertise and preparedness of current and future electric utility sector professionals–specifically to accommodate high penetrations of solar and other distributed technologies. GEARED is also helping foster student interest and expertise in the utility sector.
Among several unique outcomes of GEARED is an annual student-centered education and peer research exchange conference, the first of which was held in the fall of 2014, where students can meet and learn alongside renewable energy professionals from the electric utility industry.
The goal is to create a national network of centers and professionals that support power systems training and curriculum development based on research, development, data generation, collection, analysis and simulation.
Central to the GEARED project is the Distributed Technology Training Consortia. Composed of three regional consortiums, each with multiple university, utility and industry partners, the collaborators are working toward the infusion of power systems analysis and R&D into training activities such as curriculum and short course development, internships and co-ops, and continuing education.
The project leads of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia include:
- University of Central Florida: Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources
- Missouri University of Science and Technology: Mid-America Regional Microgrid Education and Training Consortium
- The Electric Power Research Institute: The Center for Grid Engineering Education
The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. For more information, visit www.energy.gov/sunshot.