Wind farms, female engineers and Thameslink under the spotlight

Jason Ford

News editor

The controversy that mires onshore wind continued over the weekend with a number of MPs writing to the PM arguing for a cut in wind farm subsidies.

Over the weekend The Telegraph reported that 101 conservative MPs are demanding that annual subsidies worth around £400m to the onshore wind turbine industry are ‘dramatically cut’.

Similarly, they are concerned about changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, which they believe diminishes effective opposition to wind farm developments.

With this in mind, Thursday sees a discussion at the Inglewood Manor Hotel, Ledsham regarding a proposed wind farm in north west England.

Frodsham Wind Farm would see the erection of 20 125m wind turbines capable of generating 3MW of electricity each.

Peel Energy want to build the facility and claim it would provide a total of 60MW installed capacity, delivering more than one-quarter of the 2020 renewable energy target for Cheshire.

The company says that studies conducted on a stretch of land that runs between the Manchester Ship Canal and the M56 indicate that that it is a good location for the 20 turbines.

On 25 February 2010, Peel Energy submitted a planning application for the Frodsham wind farm to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Opponents claim the wind farm will have a negative impact on noise levels, heritage assets such as the pre-historic promontory fort on Helsby Hill, and airport safety due to the proximity of Hawarden and Liverpool John Lennon airports.

Click here to learn more about local objections to the proposal.

In London this Thursday Chris Binns will deliver a talk on Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme, an infrastructure project that introduced 12 carriage trains on the cross London line for the first time.

The 3.5 year project involved involved in extending platforms in length at 12 stations, working with London Underground at two major London Stations, and training hundreds of train drivers in preparation for the Driver Only Operation of 12-car trains between Brighton and Bedford.

Binns will discus the challenges of engineering management on a programme on such a scale, and will look forward to the second key output phase of the infrastructure programme, namely the London Borough of Southwark’s recommended acceptance of plans to reconfigure London Bridge station.

Women are in the spotlight this Thursday with Diana Parkes providing tips on how female engineers can improve their career prospects.

According to publicity material, fewer women make it through the labyrinth to leadership than their education, capability, credentials and achievements merit.

The Women’s Sat Nav to Success, hosted by IET Women’s Network,  provides the elusive solution to fulfillment at work for individual women.

The event is free to IET members but registration is required.

Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which is designed to celebrate the talents and skills of apprentices across the UK.

To coincide with the event, Jaguar will launch its largest ever apprentice recruitment campaign today and tomorrow eight teams from leading businesses begin the two-month Brathay Apprentice Challenge to find the apprentice team of the year.

Similarly, defence company BAE Systems announced today that it will recruit 265 engineering and business apprentices across its UK business in 2012, including 136 to work at its submarine building business in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

According to BAE Systems, the apprentices will train as steelworkers, pipe fabricators, electricians and submarine designers. The company has around 1,000 apprentices in training in its three year apprenticeship programme, which has one of the highest completion rates in the engineering sector.

In a related development, the Commons’ Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee has extended the deadline for written evidence to its inquiry into apprenticeships by seven days until Friday to coincide with this awareness week.

Wednesday and Thursday sees Subsea 2012 taking place in Aberdeen, which is built around the challenges of ‘reaching further and going deeper’.

The conference element will cover subjects including offshore renewables, the latest developments in subsea and marine construction, global subsea markets, new technology, safety performance and future skills.

Speakers include Paul Jones, head of subsea at Chevron, Chris Bird technical director from Centrica Energy Upstream, Luc Riviere of Total’s R&D Deep Offshore team and Douglas Westwood’s Andrew Reid, who will discuss long tie-back concepts and the trends in the subsea market from 2012 to 2015.

A success story from the offshore sector broke this morning with news that North Star Shipping has been awarded a contract by Talisman Energy (UK).

Under the contract the company, a division of the Craig Group that provides offshore support vessels to the industry, will build two new platform supply vessels to support Talisman Energy’s North Sea Operations.

The contract, which is for five years with multiple options thereafter, will create 50 new jobs and represents a further £50m investment by the Craig Group in its fleet.

The two IMT-982 designed vessels will be 83m long with an 18m beam and have diesel electric propulsion systems.

They will be built at the Balenciaga Shipyard in Northern Spain and are due for delivery in the second and fourth quarter of 2013.

Finally, The Engineer has received an email from Nick Watson who writes to tell us that a UK based TV company is on the look out for outgoing, hands-on problem solvers for a new Discovery Channel project.

Watson is a development producer who wrote bemoaning the lack of outgoing engineers who have the skills to both engage an audience and be available for filming schedules.

Watson told The Engineer that he’d like to see more engineering TV, but finding the right people who have the time is nigh on impossible.

Are there any readers of The Engineer out there who feel they can step into the breach?

Renegade Pictures is developing a series based on producing prototypes which aim to solve real world problems. This will involve ‘big, fun, visual challenges which need skilled and lateral thinkers, prepared to get stuck in.’

Publicity material states: ‘Like ‘Mythbusters’, this is a slice of science and engineering education by stealth, so we need people who can get across in layman’s terms what they’re doing and why. We want people at home to learn how hydraulics work, what radiant heat is, or why sharks dislike strong magnets.’

A casting call will take place in the UK week February 20th 2012. For more information contact: problemsolver@renegadepictures.co.uk or call + 44 (0)207 4493276.