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Why leading edge protection should be a one-time affair: AEP and lack of technicians

In the ever-evolving world of wind energy, operational efficiency is key. As we have discussed in our previous blog entries, the need for leading edge protection (LEP) is undeniable. From wear and tear challenges to optimizing the annual energy production (AEP) throughout a wind turbine's lifespan, the merits of LEP are multifaceted. But today, we dive deeper into a pressing issue: why applying LEP should ideally be a one-time operation during a wind farm's lifetime.

The brewing technician crunch

As the wind energy sector grows, there is an emerging challenge that many might overlook: the demand for skilled service technicians. A recent report from GWEC sheds light on this looming concern. By the end of 2027, the global wind fleet is projected to soar to approximately 1,581 GW. That is more than double the capacity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such expansion, while commendable, brings significant operational responsibilities.

Let's dive into the numbers:

  • The technician workforce trained for the wind industry is predicted to escalate by 17%, moving from 489,600 in 2022 to 574,200 by 2027.
  • From 2023 to 2027, the industry must accommodate an average yearly increase of 48,800 new wind technicians.
  • As of the end of 2022, 145,000 technicians, which is 30% of the estimated workforce, already held a valid certificate from GWO’s Basic Safety Training Standard.
  • An additional 429,200 technicians will need wind industry training between 2023 to 2027. Notably, over 80% of these technicians will be needed in just 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, and the USA.
  • Only a fraction of wind technicians has rope certification that is widely used for blade repair.

Given this context, there will be a substantial strain on training and deploying skilled technicians. Ensuring that these technicians are trained to perform high-quality, durable LEP installations is paramount. However, the growing base of installed turbines implies that repeated interventions for LEP would be neither feasible nor economical.

A singular focus for asset owners

For asset owners, the message is clear. Every service and retrofit operation on a wind turbine comes with associated costs, not just in terms of financials but also in terms of operational downtime and human resources. With the anticipated shortage of skilled technicians, repeated LEP applications would be a logistical nightmare.

Thus, the strategy should be to get it right the first time. Invest in high-quality LEP that lasts, thereby minimizing the need for repeated applications. Not only does this approach ensure optimal AEP but it also aligns with the reality of a constrained workforce in the coming years.


The wind energy sector stands at a pivotal point. As the installed base grows exponentially, the demands on maintenance and retrofitting will increase in tandem.

Leading edge protection, when done right the first time, not only ensures optimal energy production but also aligns with the industry's logistical challenges. As the GWEC report emphasizes, the crunch of skilled technicians will be real and pressing.

For asset owners, the mantra should be clear: durability, efficiency, and foresight will be the keys to sustainable and profitable wind energy operations.