Wonderful weeks of wind in wet west Wales!

A bit late I know, but better late than never I guess?? A couple of weeks ago I was back at CAT For the second week of the wind power module. This covers large scale commercial wind development, rather than the smaller scale wind module that I will be attending later this year.

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Polenko wind turbine – ‘Stout’

The two weeks have been thoroughly enjoyable and extremely interesting. Before the course, wind power was my main interest, alongside hydro, so I had been really looking forward to this part of the course. It has also been quite an eye-opener in terms of just how many hoops developers have to jump through to get a project from conception to energisation, not least the biased views of ‘NIMBYs’ who can throw a real spanner in the works, despite often basing their objections on misinformation rather than fact or evidence. Alongside that you have got access issues, land designations, ecological impacts…the list goes on. Several students on the Biomass module that was running concurrently commented after hearing our group presentations that they wouldn’t be doing the wind module now as it’s far too complicated!

Despite these obstacles, my passion for wind power remains. It just makes so much sense for the UK to capitalise on its abundant wind resource, and I think we should be taking full advantage of it. Hopefully future generations will pick up the batten and NIMBYism will gradually erode away (here’s hoping!)

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Nordtank wind turbine at Mynydd Gorddu

As usual on the course we had a couple of trips out, one to a local wind farm, Mynydd Gorddu which was the basis of our group presentation, and also a hike up the hills behind CAT to the bro Dyfi community wind turbines, which is what our technical report relates to. It was great to get up close to these magnificent machines, which in my opinion are very elegant pieces of green engineering (apart from perhaps the Polenko, which is quite a utilitarian-looking piece of kit!)

Throughout the fortnight we were also lucky to have several guest lecturers, covering various topics, all of whom delivered the material with real passion and enthusiasm, alongside Mike Patching, a veteran wind consultant who gave the bulk of lectures during the module, and whose breadth and depth of knowledge really showed through. One highlight for me was the final session of week two – an extremely thorough and interesting talk on offshore wind development from Pete Geddes of DONG Energy. This promises to be an exciting growth area in the UK and worldwide, especially here, where we already have a greater installed capacity than the rest of the world combined!

In summary, a great fortnight that has left me wanting to find out more, and a recommended module to take if you are thinking about joining the course.

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