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Offshore Wind Power Poised for Breakthrough in Canada

Offshore wind power holds great potential to contribute to the renewable energy grid. Here’s a look at the potential of the offshore wind industry– and what it takes to break into the field.


Harnessing the Potential for Offshore Wind in Canada

The idea of placing turbines at sea to harness wind energy over open water has been around since the early 1990s, but until recently, Canada had yet to begin the process of launching its first large-scale facility. Now, with activity ramping up across the border, offshore wind could be poised for a breakthrough on Canadian shores, bringing with it sustainable jobs and economic growth.

“Offshore wind power is likely to play a big role in building the green hydrogen industry, which will be critical to enable the transition away from fossil fuels,” says Delia Warren, Lead Renewables Consultant at Xodus Group, and former Iron & Earth East Chapter Director. “There’s strong interest in eastern Canada’s offshore wind potential. Investors are just waiting on a regulatory framework. We’ll hopefully see real activity in the next two years, but I doubt the first projects will be built before 2030.”

Newfoundland and Labrador, which hopes to have offshore wind areas leased by 2025, has the federal government's blessing to proceed with approvals in provincial waters, however, some of the electricity generated could be used to also power oil and gas operations.

The reasons for offshore wind’s great potential lie both in Canada’s vast offshore wind resources and the ability of offshore wind farms to produce far more power than their land-based counterparts. Onshore wind farms’ largest wind turbines can produce up to six megawatts, while offshore wind’s largest wind turbines can feasibly produce up to 20 megawatts or more. Since they don’t face geographic constraints like hills or cities, offshore winds tend to be stronger and more consistent than onshore ones. Their generally remote locations also mean the large wind turbines are less likely to face opposition from disgruntled neighbours over ruined ocean views.

Delia currently assists clients in assessing offshore wind supply chain and workforce opportunities in the US. Developing a supply chain for offshore wind can be particularly challenging, with each wind turbine being composed of over 2000 parts. Additionally, there is a need to coordinate the many vessels required to ship parts, perform installation activities, navigate all the required permitting, carry out environmental assessments, conduct geophysical studies and surveys, and last but not least - obtain project financing.

Career Opportunities in Offshore Wind Generation

On the workforce side, Delia says there is likely to be strong workforce opportunities for new graduates, particularly those completing the wind turbine technician programs. “Companies often hire workers as soon as they graduate from these programs," she says. The industry also needs quayside workers such as heavy equipment operators, crane operators, longshoremen, etc. as well as related manufacturing jobs that are not necessarily located near offshore wind farms. Other related jobs such as welders, pipefitters, millwrights, metalworkers along with general construction and services can be located further from the coast.

Wind Turbine Technician (WTT) is a specialized trade and is in high demand, with annual salaries topping $100K, plus extra pay for offshore work. It’s possible to complete a wind technician program in one year (or less, for skilled trade workers), although Delia notes that additional Global Wind Organization training is required for offshore wind work. WTT program graduates may also need additional training and certification from a specific turbine manufacturer to perform some roles, which involves extensive, apprentice-style training.

Delia’s advice to those considering transitioning to a career in wind power is to build out a network in the industry, leverage mentorship programs like the one offered by Iron & Earth, attend industry events, and to learn as much as you can about the industry. She notes that offshore wind's rotation schedule, and exposure to the sea for weeks at a time are not for everyone. Fortunately, in Canada’s Maritime provinces, home to some of the world’s strongest wind speeds, and a workforce used to similar conditions and schedules in offshore oil drilling and fishing operations, this is less of a concern.

For more information about Iron & Earth’s training opportunities in clean energy, contact us at [email protected] or 778-771-0852. To search for renewable energy jobs or a career Mentor, visit our Climate Career Portal.


Iron & Earth’s training programs are funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.




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