Talk about the future of the wind industry

Why FOM Academy bets on human resource development

Japan's wind power generation business is still at a developing stage compared to Europe. As this field continues to develop, a major challenge will be the lack of human resources. Under these circumstances, FOM Academy, a training facility specializing in wind power generation, was established in Fukushima. At our facility, we are focusing on training O&M personnel with a focus on wind turbine maintenance.

In this article, we will discuss Fukushima Wind O&M (General Incorporated Association), which operates FOM Academy.Operation & Maintenance)Mr. Tatsunori Kanno and Mr. Toshimitsu Yoshida of ``Relatec'' talked about the future of the wind power generation industry.

The connections and thoughts that led to the establishment of FOM Academy

Yoshida I heard that Mr. Konagatani, Mr. Mito, and Mr. Kanno have known each other since before Relatec was founded.

Konagatani I met Mr. Kanno when Mito and I were both working at our previous jobs.We were introduced to FREA (Fukushima Renewable Energy Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) and "Energy Agency Fukushima" and decided to work together., we asked Seiden, the company to which Mr. Kanno works, to handle the construction work related to Doppler lidar observation.

KannoSeidensha conducts a variety of electricity and communications-related businesses, with a focus on the maintenance and construction of railway electrical equipment. I had a lot of experience to gain, and I thought it would be interesting, so I accepted the position. The installation location was about an hour's drive from my company, so I thought it would be okay, but I was surprised because the observation location was so deep in the mountains. During maintenance work in the winter, it snowed heavily and I was unable to contact three of our employees, so I panicked, thinking we were lost. That was a memorable job.

Mito I agree. We've been friends for several years since then. That project is still ongoing.

Konagatani   Mr. Yoshida apparently worked at General Electric (GE) for 17 years in wind turbine maintenance. At what point did he join the management of FOM Academy?

Yoshida That's when I decided to build it here.I had heard from Mr. Kanno that Seiden wanted to start a wind power generation business in Fukushima. Then, I told him that without a training center, the project would not take root in Fukushima, and that if there was any problem, he would give me advice and that I could always ask him. Then, one day, Mr. Kanno contacted me and said, ``I bought a school to open a training center.'' I was surprised at his energy (lol)

KonagataniIt moves quite quickly. Mr. Kanno, were you looking for properties for closed schools from the beginning?

KannoIn order to provide training that complies with GWO standards, there are regulations regarding the height and strength of ladders at high-altitude training facilities, and we needed to find a building with a roof that met these requirements. At first, we were looking for a company warehouse or factory, but we couldn't find a suitable property. After that, I realized that a school gymnasium would meet the criteria. From there, I started looking for schools as well.

MitoThis school building is really beautiful. The gymnasium is also large and perfect for a training facility. 

The hallway of FOM Academy
FOM Academy training facility diagram

KannoWe thought the same thing when we found this property. The president also made an immediate decision and decided to buy it from Seidensha. The school building was still new and the price was quite high, but each room had an air conditioner and no earthquake-proofing work was required, so I think it was a good choice overall.


To be of benefit to others. I quit my job at a major wind turbine manufacturer and focused on the academy.

KonagataniWas Mr. Yoshida involved in the design of the facility from the beginning?

YoshidaI agree. We told them what kind of training facilities and equipment they would need, as well as the general floor plan. At that time, I was still working at a wind turbine manufacturer, but one day I thought that the work at FOM Academy looked interesting, so I suddenly had a switch and wrote an email to the human resources person saying, ``I'm resigning from the company.'' Of course, I'm not talking about quitting suddenly on that day, but after six months.

Kanno When I heard that, I panicked (lol). I was planning to bring it in more gradually. However, thanks to Mr. Yoshida's determination, we were able to concentrate and create FOM Academy, and we were able to make it take shape in a short period of time.

MitoWhy was the switch turned on?

YoshidaIt may have been because he contracted the coronavirus and was hospitalized in an isolation ward. The first time I became conscious of death was when the doctor told me that if he had been admitted to the hospital one day late, he might have died. Everyone is bound to die someday, but if I were to die anyway, I thought I'd do something to help others. Of course, my work at the manufacturer was also important, and it's not that I disliked it. We have been developing human resources within the company and looking for people outside the company, but if things continue as they are now, we will not have enough people to take on the role in the future. So I decided to focus on training and increase the number of engineers.

Mito Thinking from a broader perspective, if the number of people involved in the wind turbine industry increases, it would be beneficial not only to Fukushima and Japan as a whole, but also to wind turbine manufacturers.

YoshidaThat's right. When I was working for a manufacturer, I was responsible not only for training internal human resources, but also for finding human resources outside the company, but it was a really difficult situation because there were so few people with experience working with wind turbines in Japan. In the future, when the wind power generation business becomes full-scale in Fukushima, we believe that it will be beneficial for wind turbine manufacturers to create an environment where there are enough capable engineers, rather than bringing in engineers from overseas or outside the prefecture. Masu. I get asked this a lot, but it's not like I stopped working because I didn't like wind turbine manufacturers (lol).

The significance of the 5-day training and the mission of FOM Academy

MitoFOM Academy training takes 5 days, but some GWO-certified facilities can complete the training in 3.5 days. What's the difference?

YoshidaThe GWO-BST training course has the following four modules.

  • First Aid (FA) Initial first aid treatment
  • Manual Handling (MH) Manual Handling
  • Fire Awareness (FAW) Fire Prevention and Extinguishing
  • Working at Height (WAH)

Of these, it is also possible to create a combination version by combining high-place work and manual handling. This will compress the time, making it possible to complete a 3.5-day course. At first, there was talk of making FOM Academy a 3.5-day course. But I objected.

KannoOur customers, the companies that send their employees to training centers, have a need for training to be completed in as short a period as possible. So I thought 3.5 days would be a good time, but after Mr. Yoshida explained the importance of manual handling, I finally agreed.

Yoshida Manual handling is training to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents associated with manual handling, but in Japan there is no culture of going out of your way to train. However, I think it is a very important item.

There are many opportunities to carry heavy loads at the site, but since only about three people can fit inside the windmill, it is often difficult to carry heavy loads. In fact, back pain and knee pain are the most common reasons for retirement from the wind turbine industry. If you injure your lower back or knees when you are young, it will no longer be effective until you are in your 40s.

Kanno Also, 3.5 days makes it all a bit of a rush. Fortunately, Fukushima has the advantage of being close to Kanto and Chubu. You can leave home on Monday morning, the first day of training, and return home on Friday, the last day of training. Since there is no need to stay the night before, I don't think it will be that much of a burden in terms of time commitment, including travel and accommodation. I want them to have as much fun as possible and remember and acquire as many things as possible before going home.

KonagataniIn the future, as more and more foreign players such as wind turbine manufacturers and power generation companies enter Japan, they will not receive training based on global standards such as GWO, which used to be based on domestic standards. I don't think it will work anymore. We also believe that it is important to learn not only about wind conditions, but also about wind turbines as a whole from an O&M perspective, so we hope to come back this year or next to take the training.

KannoPlease come by all means.

MitoAre you considering increasing training focused on offshore wind power generation as a future training program?

KannoI believe that offshore wind power is an important field that will continue to develop in the future, but I do not think it is necessary for FOM Academy to deal with it for the time being. This is because, regarding Fukushima, we predict that offshore wind power will still be in a later phase. If you want to do something specializing in offshore wind power, Kyushu, Akita, and Aomori have better geographical advantages, and it's easier to hear the voices of the people in the field. Therefore, there is no need for our company to be responsible for everything, and we hope to become a place where you can learn detailed wind turbine maintenance mainly on land. I think it would be good for each training center to develop its strengths and become sharper.

YoshidaWe are currently collaborating with other centers. FOM Academy provides the basic training necessary for onshore wind turbine maintenance, but if anyone wants to acquire other skills, we will refer them to other facilities. For example, if someone wants to learn about wind condition surveys, all they have to do is introduce them to Relatec.

Konagatanithat's nice. Relatec is currently working with Kobe University to launch the Mutsu Ogawahara wind condition observation site in Aomori Prefecture. There, the accuracy of remote sensing equipment for wind condition surveys will be verified, but the facility is also scheduled to be open to the general public. It would be great if we could create a good network of mutual relationships, such as having people introduce us if they have such needs, and conversely showing people who want to learn about things other than wind conditions to FOM facilities.

Today I experienced high-altitude training, and what was impressive was that the deck was built to resemble the inside of a wind turbine nacelle. Furthermore, I was impressed by the fact that it incorporates the features of various wind turbine manufacturers, and that it has been designed with a lot of consideration given to the actual site.

MitoThat's right. In addition to high-altitude training, we toured various training equipment and training rooms.For example, in order to check the full harness before using it, we purposely brought in defective items that were actually used in the field. I thought it was interesting that there were more practical ideas, such as having people look for abnormalities. In addition, Japanese and English versions of the materials were projected on the monitor, and I was impressed by the careful attention to detail that allowed engineers from overseas to take the course at the same time.

KonagataniToday we were able to exchange various opinions regarding O&M of wind power generation, which was very helpful. I would like to work together to develop the wind power industry so that Japan's wind power generation market can grow in a healthy manner.

KannoI really think so. Next time, please join us for 5 days of training. We look forward to!

 (Composition/Izumi Kantake; Editing/Hisae Sasaki)

Part 1: Developing human resources responsible for the future of wind power generation - The challenge of the FOM Academy born in Fukushima -From here