Students learn about offshore wind development and the jobs they could benefit from
TEENAGERS Ethan Adams and Jack Hale said they barely knew anything about renewable energy when they signed up to a brand new course at Pembrokeshire College, but that has changed.
They now have a solid grasp of what is shaping up to be a significant source of jobs and investment in the Celtic Sea – the large body of water bordered by South West Wales, the South West of England and the south of Ireland.
Floating offshore wind farms in this marine expanse could be helping the UK decarbonise its power supply further in a few years’ time, and people will be needed to assemble, install and maintain the turbines, connect them to the grid, and refine and improve their design.
Staff will also be needed to research, build and maintain tidal energy projects – like a large electricity-generating lagoon and floating solar farm that has been proposed in Swansea Bay.
Mechanical engineering students Ethan and Jack were among the first intake of a pilot course called Destination Renewables at Pembrokeshire College. The industry-led programme is the first of what is expected to be several courses underpinned by a £1.2 billion city deal for the Swansea Bay region, which comprises Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
The idea of the courses will be to equip students with some of the advanced manufacturing, technical and other skills which the jobs of tomorrow will need.
Ethan, 18, of Tenby, said he was interested in widening his horizons. “I knew nothing about renewable energy,” he said. “I thought, why not expand my knowledge and gain an interest in what’s going on around me.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve found it really informative and interactive. It’s never the same thing twice.”
The students have done field trips and workshops, listened to renewable energy business leaders, and learned about the planning and consenting process, among other things.
Ethan said one example of what they’d explored was the different ways of “pegging down” offshore wind turbines, and the need to consider the impact on marine life – particular the vibrations associated with their installation.
“They were telling us that they can create a forcefield of bubbles to soak up the sound,” he said.
Ethan attended a conference held at the Port of Milford Haven where he spoke to Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies. He and other students who have opted to carry on with the course will focus on a renewable energy project in the second year.
Ethan said he could see a future for himself in the renewable sector. “I feel like I would be quite suited to project management,” he said.
Jack, 17, who lives near Newgale, said: “I never really learned about renewable energy at school. I’ve definitely gained a wider perspective.
“We’ve had guest speakers coming in telling us about how much goes into these projects, and how many jobs there will be.”
Hayley Williams, the college’s curriculum development manager, said the course aimed to raise awareness both of the UK’s drive towards net zero – drastically cutting carbon emissions and offsetting the remainder – and the role Pembrokeshire could play in it.
Irish company DP Energy and French energy giant EDF Renewables have had a key role in delivering the pilot course.
“We started talking to DP Energy about 18 months ago,” said Mrs Williams. “What surfaced is that young people didn’t really know what net zero was and they didn’t know there was so much research and development taking place at the Milford Haven Waterway.
“The plan was to bring the whole renewable sector to life – from research and development, consenting, commissioning and connecting.”
She said around 60 students initially signed up but that this number had reduced. “Some students, say those doing doing construction, were not finding it was relevant to them,” she said. “The ones that have stayed on are thoroughly engaged. Other colleges in South West Wales are interested.”
Mrs Williams said there were around nine companies in the area developing marine energy technologies, and that a demonstration floating offshore wind project by a company called Blue Gem Wind could start being installed in the Celtic Sea next year.
Mrs Williams said she felt there was an element of “sea blindness” in Pembrokeshire about the natural resources just off the coastline. “All of a sudden it’s like somebody is opening the curtains,” she said.
DP Energy and EDF Renewables will provide mentoring opportunities to students in the second year.
Ffion Wright, of DP Energy, said: “We are working now to build on the success achieved to come back in September with a condensed programme that can be delivered to Pembrokeshire learners and rolled out to other interested colleges in Wales and the South West of England.
“A key ingredient of the programme has been the time given by industry partners to share their knowledge and expertise with students. The course fully embraces the ‘you have to see it to be it’ approach and it will continue to be central to Destination Renewables.”
UK ministers want to increase the installed capacity of offshore wind by fourfold by 2030. There are currently around 12 gigawatts (GW) of installed offshore wind in UK waters. The target is 50GW, with up to 5GW from floating rather than fixed turbines. To put it in context, the UK Government said 50GW of offshore wind would generate the equivalent electricity for approximately 75 million homes. But wind conditions aren’t perfect all the time.
DP Energy said a 1GW project it would like to develop in the Celtic Sea with EDF Renewables could generate the equivalent electricity used by 920,000 homes based on average wind yields.
All told, this would require a vast acceleration in projects coming on stream compared to now, and industry groups say the planning process needs to be shortened and environmental assessments streamlined. That in turn could concern those who worry about the impacts of offshore wind farms on busy waterways and the marine life they support.
The Welsh Affairs Committee has published a report saying that floating offshore wind, like the 1GW joint venture proposed by DP Energy and EDF Renewables, represented the “single biggest investment opportunity in Wales for decades”.
DP Energy said it hopes to secure a seabed lease for the project, called Gwnyt Glas – Welsh for blue wind – from the Crown Estate next year. The Crown Estate has identified five zones in the Celtic Sea which will be refined into potential project development areas. It expects to begin a seabed leasing tender process this year for companies looking to develop projects up to 1GW.
Meanwhile, the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot together form the newly-announced Celtic Freeport, which aims to speed up the roll-out of floating offshore wind among other things. Free ports have tax exemptions and aim to boost economic activity.
Another long-term project – part of the city deal programme – is the testing and development of zero-carbon marine energy in Pembrokeshire. Called Pembroke Dock Marine, the £60 million project comprises infrastructure improvements, an engineering centre of excellence, and a new test area and demonstration zone.
It appears that South West Wales could have a big part to play in solving the UK’s net zero puzzle. There will be significant upfront costs but also good job prospects for young engineers, scientists, welders and project managers.
“I think it’s definitely a big move and it will take time,” said Jack. “But, with climate change, I think it’s the way to go.”
Engineering learner Reuben heading for ‘pole position’
ENGINEERING learner Reuben Whitehead has been turning heads with his mechanical talents when he recently designed and built his very own battery powered go-kart.
Reuben, who is a passionate Formula One fan, works part-time at West Wales Karting and decided to rebuild the kart earlier this year after they kindly donated a pre-existing kart to him.
The process involved stripping the kart down to a bare chassis and then refurbishing it. This was followed by implementing the electrical aspect of the kart and fabricating mounts for both the batteries and motor made from carbon fibre and steel.
The key components and materials used were steel for the chassis, aluminium for the rims, and an inclusion of carbon fibre for both the motor mounts and battery.
The motor produces 2.5hp and has an efficiency rate of 90% when in operation. The torque produced is 8.4-foot pounds when in operation and the motor revs 1500RPM.
Reuben explained the purpose of his project, “I built the Go-Kart because I am passionate about motorsport and enjoy karting both in local competitions and with friends so for me the opportunity to build an electric kart was exciting and something that would require me to use my skills that I have developed throughout my time at the College. I also built the project as I knew it was something that I would enjoy undertaking and be able to learn new skills along the way. Being able to get hands on with a kart and understand both the fundamentals and intricate aspects was important for my development as an aspiring motorsport engineer, hopefully one day with Formula One.”
Reuben took his first test drive in the car earlier this month using the track based up at West Wales Karting.
Reuben also discussed what inspires him to achieve his dream career.
Reuben explained, “The individuals who inspire me are my mum, for how brave and courageous she is, for always believing in me and supporting me. My late stepdad, he never gave up even at the toughest of times and always kept fighting even when the odds were against him as well as teaching me that if you work hard enough anything is achievable. Finally, Lewis Hamilton for showing that again with hard work you can achieve anything and that no dream/goal is too big, also the way in which he conducts himself after tough losses on the racetrack.”
An articulate learner, Reuben spends a large amount of time in the machine workshop whilst studying at the College where he has developed skills in working with lathes and milling machines, hand fitting tool techniques as well as CAD and precision measurement practices which has aided his knowledge into the world of car design and engineering.
Aside from Reuben’s College studies, he has self-taught himself many transferable skills.
Reuben said, “I can’t take all the credit, having been fortunate enough to have experience of refurbishing classic cars with my stepdad growing up, as well as being able to build rally cars when on work experience whilst studying in my first year of College, this has certainly helped me learn and build a skillset that can be applied in numerous engineering environments. Spending time in the workshop and learning from tutors who have real industry experience has helped me.”
Curriculum Area Manager for Engineering Will Bateman, expressed how proud the department is of Reuben, “Reuben has worked at a consistently excellent standard throughout the two-year programme. We are incredibly proud of his final project, that has showcased his skills and learning from the course. Reuben is a true engineering ambassador having spoken to numerous 14–16-year-old groups on choices post-compulsory education.”
Reuben plans on becoming a Motorsport Engineer in Formula One after his studies and this project has fuelled his motivation to show potential employers just how talented he is.
To find out more about the Engineering courses available at the College please visit: www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk/courses/mechanical-engineering-3/
Pembrokeshire’s school children invited to a barbecue to learn how food is produced
SCHOOL children from across Pembrokeshire have been invited to a barbecue by Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society on the County Showground in Haverfordwest next month to learn how local food is produced.
During the event, which will be suitable for year five pupils upwards, there will be arable, dairy, beef and sheep farmers from all over the county on hand to demonstrate and explain the journey of the different crops, milk, eggs and meat produced in Pembrokeshire. There will also be an opportunity to learn about land-based careers and those within the food and drink industry.
The event, sponsored by Meat Promotion Wales/Hybu Cig Cymru and Castell Howell, will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 19 & 20 June 2023 on the Pembrokeshire County Showground. There will be machinery and animals at the event with farmers to explain what skills are required to produce food and care for the countryside.
Kathy Wilson, a former teacher and now an Honorary Pembrokeshire Show Governor, is organising the event on behalf of the Society’s Food Story / Stori Bwyd. Kathy said, “One of the important elements of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s work is educational and spreading the word around the county about how local food is produced. The response was extremely positive to our first Food Story event last October which had a harvest theme. We hope local school children will learn a lot about where their food comes from when they attend this barbecue themed event next month. We are very grateful to all the farmers and supporters who are volunteering their time to make this event happen. Please could we ask local schools to book their places as soon as possible.”
During the event, which organisers anticipate over 1,000 children will attend at allotted times, there will also be an opportunity to meet businesses from the local area, learn about health and well-being as well as how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are used to produce food locally. The event will also touch on how the weather and climate can affect the work farmers do and how the crops grow. Children will also get an opportunity to cook and taste something with local ingredients.
If any schools in the county have not yet applied to attend they need to complete the booking form which is available on the Pembrokeshire Show website: www.pembsshow.org or click here: Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society The Food Story The Barbecue (office.com) any queries please email: email@example.com
Milford Haven School Cluster presents cheque to Sandy Bears
PUPILS from various schools within the Milford Haven School cluster recently came together to present a generous donation of £614 to the local charity Sandy Bears.
The funds were raised through the Welsh Cluster Concert, a collaborative effort that showcased the talents of students from multiple schools.
The concert, held at a full hall brimming with family and friends, featured 130 pupils from Ysgol y Glannau (Coastlands), Ysgol St Francis, Ysgol Johnston, Ysgol Gelliswick, Ysgol Gynradd Gymunedol Aberdaugleddau (MHCPS), and Ysgol Aberdaugleddau (MHS). The young performers captivated the audience with a delightful blend of song and poetry recitations, demonstrating their artistic abilities and dedication.
The event not only provided a platform for students to showcase their talents but also served as a means to support a worthy cause within the community. Sandy Bears, the recipient of the £614 donation, is a local charity that provides essential support to children and families facing challenging circumstances.
The funds raised will contribute to the charity’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of those in need.
The collaboration between schools in the Milford Haven School cluster highlights the power of unity and collective action. By joining forces, the students and staff from different schools demonstrated their commitment to making a positive impact beyond their individual campuses.
The Welsh Cluster Concert served as a testament to the talent, dedication, and generosity of the students involved. Their efforts not only entertained the audience but also showcased the strong sense of community spirit that thrives within the Milford Haven School cluster.
The cheque presentation to Sandy Bears symbolizes the culmination of their collective efforts and the tangible support they provide to a local charity. It is a reminder of the importance of nurturing empathy and compassion among young minds, who are the future leaders and change-makers of society.
Milford Haven School and the participating schools within the cluster are proud of the students’ achievements and extend their gratitude to all those who supported the Welsh Cluster Concert and contributed to the charitable cause.
For more information about Milford Haven School and the collaborative efforts of the schools within the cluster, please contact the school at 01646 690021 or visit their website at www.milfordhavenschool.co.uk.
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