This week, the UK's offshore wind, onshore wind and floating wind sectors have come together to celebrate #UKWindWeek.
Wind power is a crucial part of the UK's delivery of its net zero carbon emissions target. A future energy system, powered by renewable energy, will provide thousands of jobs, bring investment to communities across the country, and reduce energy bills.
The UK wind industry employs thousands of people up and down the country in a wide variety of roles. Today, we are highlighting some of these employees.
Meet Lauren McIntosh, a Graduate at MHI Vestas Offshore Wind
Lauren McIntosh joined MHI Vestas Offshore Wind in September 2020, as part of the second intake of the company’s Graduate Programme. After travelling and volunteering across the globe, and studying music in Edinburgh, Lauren chose to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies at the Open University. She then completed a Master’s Degree at the University of Ireland, Galway where she focused her research on the implementation of floating offshore wind turbines and energy policy.
“When I was studying for my Masters in 2019, I was lucky enough to attend the RenewableUK Global Offshore Wind Conference in London. While I was already interested in the industry, and had a specific interest in floating wind, it was this conference which really had me hooked. The passion and enthusiasm of the speakers, and the willingness and kindness of the attendees to engage with a student was so encouraging.”
Now 30 years old, Lauren is delighted to be taking part in MVOW’s Graduate Programme, where she will take part in three eight-month rotations across different departments in the company.
Meet Laura Noone, an Area Manager at EDF Renewables
Q. What would you say to a young person who’s interested in a career in renewables?
Laura: "If you’re interested in working in a role that involves the maintenance or servicing of turbines, I definitely recommend going down the mechanical engineering route. The industry is crying out for people who have experience of working with moving parts. And this experience could open the door for you to so many opportunities in renewables. If I could go back to studying again, I’d definitely focus on mechanical engineering."
Q. What skills do you need for your job? Laura: "Probably the biggest is organisational skills. You have to be organised and organise others. Because if you can’t get everything in order, there’s no chance of them doing it."
Q. What’s your favourite part of the job? Laura: "I love being outside… even when the weather’s shocking! I do a lot of outdoor stuff anyway, so it doesn't bother me. And we have a lot of PPE, so I have plenty of gear to keep warm. I usually bring my Cocker Spaniel along with me too."
Meet John Davies, North Hoyle General Manager (Offshore Wind) at RWE
Key responsibilities now:
Responsible for all technical and commercial aspects of the wind farm.
Apprenticeship / Degree:
Multi-Skilled Apprentice. Technical Training Enterprise Ltd (tte) Sponsored by ICI
Apprenticeship developed into a Chemical Plant production operator.
10 years as a power station operator at various sites including coal generation, commissioning a new gas-powered combined heat and power station.
Operations Engineer in offshore wind. Gained more commercial and management experience.
O&M Manager of an operating offshore wind farm.
O&M strategy manage for Sofia, using experience gained to develop a strategy for future developments.
Joined North Hoyle General Manager in 2020
"My apprenticeship gave me the technical, educational and personal foundations that have helped me achieve far more than I thought I ever would have done when leaving school. It has given me a career in the offshore wind industry where every day brings a new challenge while contributing to something that I feel brings benefit to the wider society."
Meet Samantha Cunningham, Offshore Substation Commissioning Lead at SSE
Samantha Cunningham is the Offshore Substation Commissioning Lead for the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Samantha has been an engineer for nine years, after graduating from Edinburgh University with an Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree. Her impressive portfolio includes working on Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, Keadby Onshore Wind Farm and now she’s helping to bring the ground-breaking Dogger Bank Wind Farm to life.
“Engineering is a career that allows you to get involved in a variety of different industries and experience a huge range of technologies. It never gets boring,” said Samantha (33), who works for SSE Renewables.
“It’s a fast-moving industry that is constantly looking to develop and it’s great to be able to work with emerging technologies and see designs come to life.”
Samantha’s advice for emerging engineers is:
“Do it! The variety of roles I’ve had exposure to within the engineering discipline has been amazing. You really can do anything you set your mind to. Curiosity is an absolute must when starting off a career in engineering. Engineers have this instinctual passion for creating something new and different and these are qualities which will allow you to explore the industry and develop into your career.
“Look for internships or summer placements, or opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills.”
Meet Ajai Ahluwalia, Principal Electrical Engineer for Dogger Bank at Equinor
In his current role at Equinor, as Principal Electrical Engineer for Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Ajai is supporting the creation of the UK’s first HVDC connected offshore wind farm. Beyond this role he is also Vice Chair for RenewableUK’s Shadow Board and supports multiple workstreams of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. Ajai has a keen interest in supporting engagement in STEM subjects and as well mentoring two Masters students at UK Universities, he is a Trustee for Green Power Education Charity, a STEM-based initiative in Norfolk.
Meet Lauren McGee, Head of Site Operations for Westermost Rough Wind Farm at Ørsted
"I started my career in the Oil & Gas sector. Moving to Grimsby ten years ago to join Ørsted, I had no idea the area would become a centre of excellence and host the biggest offshore wind operational base and wind farm in the world. After working in the Commercial Department, managing the contractual delivery and relationship with the wind farm owners, I recently moved into the Operational area of the business. I am now responsible for the operation of Westermost Rough Wind Farm. Working within Renewables has reenergised my sense of work as what we do feels important and my values closely align with Ørsted’s mission.
I believe that offshore wind is a part of our future, and that we are still early in the world’s journey for transformation to green renewable energy.
To be successful we need innovation, fresh insight and passion which is why young people are the key to this journey."
Meet Andy Chinery, an Asset Manager at RES
After working in the Royal Air Force for over two decades as an aircraft engineer, Andy joined RES as a site manager in 2014, working his way up to become an asset manager for six wind farm sites, and a portfolio of 99.5MW.
What some people might think is a drastic shift in industries was instead a recognition of the transferable skills Andy possesses from his career as a mechanical aircraft engineer, which are similar to those needed for maintaining wind turbines.
As an asset manager, a typical day in the life has more commercial now than when he first joined RES. His day involves making sure that everything is optimised and heading in the right direction, both financially and operationally, and that the turbines are generating electricity. The health and safety of the stakeholders is of utmost importance, so Andy liaises with site managers to ensure anyone who is operating at each wind farm remains safe.
Other important daily tasks include continuous quality management, ensuring all planning obligations are adhered to – including ecological monitoring – and engaging with the wider community through the Community Benefit Funds enhancing social infrastructure.
“This is very much a people job – you need people skills and to be able to communicate at all levels.”
“A key part of an asset manager’s job is building and maintaining relationships with the local community and stakeholders.
“Whenever I’m on-site, I make a point of engaging with our communities and stakeholders helping them understand the benefits of the renewable energy and the good it does not just in reducing emissions but enhancing the ecology in the immediate vicinity. Quite often it is just a case of breaking down myths and having a discussion to improve their understanding of the importance of renewables.”