Renewable grid connections, HS2, and the rise of the apprenticeship

Jason Ford

News Editor

With wind filling the sails of Britain’s green energy revolution and manufacturing sector performing well, Briefing looks at events that address grid connectivity and skills.

By 2020 around 30 per cent of electricity generated in the UK will have to come from renewable sources, which will require roughly 16GW of offshore wind to meet that target.

Luckily, Britain is well-positioned to embrace wind and organisers of an event in Bristol this evening state that over 40GW of offshore development is already planned, representing an investment of over £120bn.

Building wind farms, however, is only part of the green energy jigsaw which is why Matthew Knight, business development manager, Siemens Energy is delivering ‘Bringing wind power ashore’.

The event’s publicity material informs us that connecting offshore wind to the onshore grid raises challenges involving planning, regulation and financing, plus the practical issues of installing electrical equipment in the sea.

Registration is required for this event (click here for more details), which takes place at the University of West England from 6-30pm.

A more holistic view of renewable connectivity kicks off tomorrow at the two-day ‘Connecting renewable energy to the Grid’ conference in London.

The organisers say the event will bring together a range of experts including transmission operators, renewable technology experts, equipment suppliers and engineers to discuss the challenges and opportunities for increasing the penetration of renewable energy into the grid.

Paul Coventry from National Grid is delivering a talk tomorrow at Cardiff University that will propose HVDC cables as the most practical option for connecting offshore wind farms to the onshore grid.

Possible development of offshore HVDC connections around the UK will be described and the challenges involved in implementing the technology in the necessary timescales will be highlighted.

Britain’s big ticket projects – such as offshore wind farms and HS2 – won’t get very far without skilled and enthusiastic employees, many of whom will have started their careers as apprentices.

National Apprentice Week, which began today, aims to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships to employers, school leavers and careers changers alike.

The government says it is committed to increase the budget for apprenticeships to over £1.4bn in 2011-12 and that it is working with business to deliver 100,000 more apprentices by 2014.

BAE Systems announced today that it will be recruiting 290 apprentices for its UK business in 2011 and Jaguar Land Rover is looking to create 1,200 apprentice positions.

According to business secretary Vince Cable, 80 per cent of firms that employ apprentices believe they make for a more productive workplace.

Finally, City University London will be hosting Prof Neville Jackson, chief technology & innovation officer at Ricardo, who will discuss the prospects for low carbon technologies in transport this Wednesday.

In the UK 23.5 per cent of total CO2 is said to be produced directly from road transport. Of that total around one third is from commercial vehicles, with heavy goods vehicle traffic forecast to grow 14 per cent by 2025.

Technology solutions have emerged to address urban and city passenger car challenges but long distance passenger and goods transport will require more innovative solutions.

Prof Jackson’s lecture will provide examples of the investigations and measurements that have been critical in developing new technologies so far, and offer a longer term roadmap illustrating how the CO2 challenge can be met.