It is crucial to take coal regions along in the European energy transition – we need a just transition. In practice this means that new jobs need to be created for fossil fuel workers – and they need to be trained to fill these jobs. This is the only way for coal regions to go through a successful transition along with the rest of Europe.
The Romanian Wind Energy Association (RWEA) has been working on this issue over the past years and has now been able to fully establish a reskilling project for miners.
It all started with the Renewable Energy School of Skills in Constan?a, where 4,500 technicians have been schooled who now take care of O&M of wind farms in Romania and abroad. But starting in July the School’s facilities will be expanded to the Jiu Valley – a former coal region. This facility will train 400 miners per year who will be able to work in the wind industry afterwards.
It is highly critical for these regions to be offered help in their transition. Just like many European coal regions, the Jiu Valley used to have a strong economy. But after the closure of all its mines, its communities were left behind and almost half of the region’s population has left ever since.
These local initiatives can be a big support in reawakening the local economy. Wind energy has grown a lot in Romania recently. It now provides about 12% of Romania’s electricity but is expected to provide up to 35% of Romania’s electricity by 2030.
The closing of mines does not have to mean the downfall of these regions. New opportunities will arise and the wind industry can make its contribution here by creating jobs for locals.