It’s undeniable that wind power is increasingly helping to provide clean energy for homes and businesses throughout the U.S. and the Americas. It goes without saying that all those massive wind machines need skilled technicians to help keep the turbines humming and the blades spinning. To ensure wind technicians have the right skills and safety training, my company, Siemens Energy, has built a new, state-of-the-art wind service training center in Orlando, Florida. Today, the center officially opened for business.
Our honored guests at the grand opening ceremony included Florida Governor Rick Scott, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, many additional local elected officials and customers such as RES Americas. Siemens was well represented by Randy Zwirn, president and CEO of Siemens Energy, Inc. and CEO of the Energy Service Division, as well as over 100 Siemens employees.
The new $7 million facility is an important milestone for us. In the past two years, our global wind service business has grown from approximately 1,600 employees to well over 2,700 today, including more than 500 in the U.S. With this facility, we committed to creating 50 new full-time jobs associated with the training center, and 49 have already been filled. Close to 25 percent of these positions are currently held by military veterans. Many of the unique logistical and technical skills, as well as the physicality and discipline, acquired during military service can be successfully transferred to this type of work.
Since 2007, we have invested more than $110 million in wind energy manufacturing and service in North America and these figures are expected to increase as the industry matures.
We see a very bright future for wind energy. For the first time ever, wind was the No. 1 source of new electricity generation capacity (a distinction it earned in 2012). In fact, more wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. than any other form of power generation.
Our new training center will help us ensure we have highly skilled technicians to service this market. We are proud of our new facility, which was built based on LEED Gold green-building standards. The 40,000-square-foot building is located close to the global headquarters of our Energy Service division. It features two full-size nacelles (the generator part of a wind turbine), three 30-foot high climbing towers, ladder structures, electrical and hydraulic modules, and a service crane station, all of which make training, safety and rescue simulations as realistic as possible. A number of technologically equipped training labs and flexible space to accommodate varying class sizes are also available.
The training center will certainly bustle; we expect to host more than 2,400 trainees annually from both North and South Americas region. It is one of four Siemens wind service training facilities globally, joining sister sites in Brande, Denmark; Bremen, Germany; and Newcastle in the United Kingdom. All four of our training centers are certified by the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) as offering the industry’s highest level of safety training.
We look forward to welcoming our wind service technicians to Orlando!