Renewable Energy Competition

Last week Pembrokeshire College hosted the first Renewable Energy Competition as part of the Skills Competition Wales suite of competitions aimed at raising skills levels in over 60 curriculum areas.

Almost 30 students from colleges across Wales came together for the inaugural event sponsored by Gwynt Glas – a joint venture, floating offshore wind farm being developed by EDF Renewables and DP Energy.

The students worked in teams of four to develop innovative ideas for a renewable energy solution for a fictional island off the coast of Wales currently reliant on ageing diesel generators. Students were presented with the brief prior to the event to begin work on their solutions with extra dimensions added during the day to challenge them even further.

A-level student Andrew was part of the Pembrokeshire College team and commented: “It’s an amazing opportunity that Pembrokeshire College has given me. It’s been really wonderful; it’s going amazingly and I’ve absolutely loved it!”

Adam, an Engineering student from The College Merthyr Tydfil team added: “Renewable energy sources are the way of the future and having the opportunity to do a project like this aids us in achieving our grade in Engineering.”

The first competition of its kind in Wales, input was sought from industry experts to ensure the brief was as realistic as possible. As part of the competition, each team was also able to book a slot with consultants from DP Energy, to test their theories and seek expert advice on the viability of their proposed solutions.

Chris Williams, Head of Development UK and New Markets, DP Energy was one of the consultants and judges for the competition and commented: “I have been so impressed by the teams who have participated in the inaugural Renewable Energy challenge for Skills Competition Wales. The challenge set was complex and each and every one of the participants applied themselves 100% to the task which resulted in innovative, out of the box, thinking and problem solving! No two solutions were alike. They have not made it easy for the judging panel.
“As a Renewable Energy Developer with an office in Wales, it’s exciting to see the enthusiasm and ingenuity from these college students. I hope this experience will encourage them to seriously consider a career in the renewable energy sector.”

In addition to Chris Williams and Lee Watt from DP Energy, judges for the competition were Paul Ellsmore (MEECE Programme Manager), Rebecca Williams (Director for Wales, The Crown Estate), Claire Palmer (Stakeholder Director, Menter Mon Morlais) and Tim Brew (Education Manager, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum).

Competition organiser, Arwyn Williams, Head of Faculty at Pembrokeshire College commented: “This has been an exciting competition, raising awareness of the increasingly important role of renewable energy generation, the opportunities and challenges. This competition has also helped develop some of the skills needed to work in the industry: problem solving, team work, effective communication, resource management and leadership.

“I have no doubt that this event will help ready our students for the transition to net zero. We are grateful to our sponsors Gwynt Glas who have backed this pilot competition which I hope will continue to gain momentum.”

Developed in response to the huge investment being made into finding sustainable energy solutions, and the current developments taking place in the Celtic Sea, it is hoped that through the competition, and working with industry professionals, the students will be inspired to pursue careers in developing innovative solutions to decarbonisation.

Mark Hazelton Gwynt Glas Project Director said: “The case for greater renewables capacity has never been stronger. We are delighted to support this competition which we hope will inspire young learners and encourage them to pursue career pathways in growth renewables sector.

“Competitions like these can be daunting but well done to everyone who has taken part and good luck!”

The teams competing were from Pembrokeshire College, Merthyr College, Coleg Gwent, Cardiff and Vale College and Coleg Menai. The winning team will be announced on the 9 March.

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