New Zealand Geothermal training expertise powers Indonesia's renewables journey
As the world increasingly focuses on the need to address climate change and move away from fossil fuels, New Zealand is playing its part by sharing its education and sector expertise in the geothermal industry.
Indonesia has vast capability to generate geothermal power but has looked to New Zealand to provide targeted technical training in order to capitalise on its natural resources and support its renewables journey.
For the past three years, Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) has been providing that practical training through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s aid programme.
The programme builds on long-standing relationships with the Indonesian geothermal industry which date back to the 1980s.
New Zealand boasts an innovative and world-leading workforce
Geothermal New Zealand Executive Director Mike Allen says Aotearoa New Zealand boasts an innovative and world-leading workforce in geothermal science, engineering, and plant construction, and that there is obvious mutual benefit in sharing our skills and expertise.
“Students who have undertaken training in New Zealand always have a positive experience and when they return home, they are great ambassadors for us.”
“The geothermal industry is good at maintaining contact with those who have received New Zealand training, and many of them come back and work in the industry here.”
Mr Allen says the MFAT aid investment in the renewable energy space has also benefitted New Zealand in consultancy contracts, new business, research collaboration, and valuable long-term relationships. “The training we provide is very good for Brand New Zealand.”
How Wintec’s international education programme is helping Indonesia
What Indonesia specifically needed from Wintec’s international education programme was training in practical operational skills for their geothermal technicians and operators.
Since 2018, Wintec has been working with technical institutes and universities to incorporate practice-based learning into their courses and has also provided staff training directly to the geothermal operators.
“New Zealand has a strong history of apprenticeships and operator and technician training programmes,” says Jo Douglas, who manages the project for Wintec.
“We took the raw material from our curriculum and repackaged it to meet their needs. We have been involved in curriculum change, training the trainers, and changing their approach so inquiry-based learning and problem-solving is encouraged. We are delivering technical short courses on a range of subject matter in order to fill skills gaps.”
The programme has been hugely successful for Wintec. It has provided a range of technical training to over 700 participants. But Covid has forced changes to how the content is delivered.
Staff developed blended online modules which have seen students doing some online learning and then coming into digital classrooms to observe practical demonstrations by tutors. “We even had a tutor who built a model geothermal cooling tower in his living room and students had to interact with the demonstration online.”
And it is not only the students who are benefiting. “It gives our tutors the chance to teach in entirely different situations, to take their core knowledge and adapt it to new circumstances and with different expectations. It challenges them and gives them the opportunity to see another perspective.”
This geothermal education story is one of many instances where New Zealand’s education providers are sharing their research, experience and education expertise with sectors or industries around the world. Facilitated by respective governments, a New Zealand education is helping other governments to help their people by addressing the country’s challenges or opportunities.