Tech signs memo with firm over wind power

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The Tech has joined forces with Gaelectric to launch a renewable energy scholarship scheme.

A memorandum of understanding was recently signed by Brendan McGrath, CEO Gaelectric Developments, and Leo Murphy, Chief Executive and Principal, North West Regional College (NWRC) to promote renewable energy technology solutions, and in particular, energy solutions associated with wind power and wind power integration.

Patrick McClughan, Gaelectric’s Head of Corporate Affairs, and Chair of Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG), outlines the rationale behind the joint venture, which will support those studying on STEM courses in the College’s Limavady and Londonderry campuses.

“Northern Ireland has a growing renewable industry sector and there is significant potential within this sector for job creation.

“It is important that our young people, who are essentially our emerging workforce and entrepreneurs, understand the wide range of opportunities that exist within the renewable sector.

“Through the Gaelectric Construction and Renewable Energy Scholarship students on Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5 Construction programmes at NWRC will be able to access a number of support initiatives directly connected to the renewable energy sector.”

Mr McClughan adds: “Gaelectric will also be sponsoring a graduate project to work on Data Management as well as providing a bursary fund of £3,000.

“This fund will recognise outstanding student course performance and in Renewable Energy projects. In addition North West Regional College’s construction students and staff will regularly visit Gaelectric’s flagship 42MW Dunbeg windfarm, located between Limavady and Coleraine.

“During these visits students will be able to develop a technical understanding of onshore wind farms under the guidance of Gaelectric’s in-house Operations and Maintenance team.

“The Gaelectric Renewable Energy Scholarship Scheme is a very exciting development and we look forward to developing it further over the coming years.”

Danny Laverty, Head of School for Science and Technology at NWRC thanked Gaelectric for making the commitment to supporting education in this way: “Working with industry is integral to our approach at the College, as it enhances the student experience, and provides students with a direct link into the workplace they could be joining on completion of their studies.

“We are very grateful to Gaelectric for their industrial sponsorship and a partnership which will enrich student industrial experience, and support students financially.

“NWRC’s partnership with Gaelectric will benefit current and future FE and HE students studying Construction, Engineering and Computing programmes in the college.

“We are thrilled that the hard work and commitment of students will be recognised in this way,” concluded Dr Laverty.

In the last three years, Gaelectric has secured planning approval for nine Northern Ireland wind farm developments. The company’s first operational wind farm in Northern Ireland, the £20million Carn Hill Wind Farm located in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was officially opened in May 2013. The second project to be completed was the £58million Dunbeg wind farm, located between Limavady and Coleraine, and was officially launched in November 2014. Gaelectric plans to commission its remaining seven Northern Ireland wind farm projects by 2017.

Mr McClughan adds: “Our total permitted portfolio now stands at 140MWs in Northern Ireland and represents a total investment of approximately £170million. This consolidates Gaelectric’s position as the largest indigenous renewable energy company in Northern Ireland, and we are proud to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets.”