The business case for the proposed renewable energy training centre at Federation University has been delayed until the end of the year, as the scope of the plan expands.
The $12.5 million Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre, the first of its kind in Victoria, will train apprentices in the installation and maintenance of wind turbines, solar panels, and domestic batteries, as well as site safety.
It was hoped students would begin the courses in March, but the business case will be delayed until December.
The state government committed $50,000 in July for a business case to be developed.
According to FedUni TAFE executive director Barry Wright, the business case “continues with stakeholders”.
“Pleasingly though, the work done to date demonstrates that significant job opportunities exist from the development of a centre here in Ballarat in direct construction of the centre, jobs to service the renewable energy industry, and running the centre,” he said.
“Whilst the economic benefits to the region are significant, Federation University Australia remains hopeful that support will come for the development of the centre.”
About $3 billion worth of investment in renewable energy will deliver thousands of jobs in the region, however the Committee for Ballarat’s Melanie Robertson said all these projects needed workers.
“People who are employed go overseas (for training) and that’s highly expensive,” she said.
“What about replacement staff or apprentices? There’s no pathways, they have to go to Europe.”
Ms Robertson pointed to the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre as a successful example to emulate.
The SARETEC offers accredited training in wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies, and opened in 2015.
The Canberra Institute of Technology offers similar courses.
Ms Robertson added there would also be scope for career transition, as older workers could begin teaching younger apprentices.
“It’s the critical piece of the puzzle,” she said.
“There’s strong industry support here, they’re keen for it to occur and will put money on the table.”
The centre will be at FedUni’s Grant Street TAFE centre before moving to the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
The school will look to take on between 10 and 30 students, and is in the process of achieving certification to allow for the delivery of Basic Technical Training, associated with turbine technician training.
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