CAITHNESS students will benefit from an agreement which has been signed by North Highland College and Whirlwind Renewables.
The deal – signed on Friday – will provide the Thurso college with between £30,000 and £50,000 a year to support skills development and employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector in Caithness.
The funding will come from Whirlwind Renewables Wathegar 2 wind-farm project, near Wick. The money, which will be index-linked, will be provided during the 25-to-30 years’ lifetime of the development.
In addition, the Yorkshire-based company is to award an annual Whirlwind Renewables Prize to the value of approximately £500 to be presented to local students, although the criteria is yet to be decided.
Following the formal signing of the agreement, engineering staff and students based in the newly opened Engineering, Technology and Energy Centre were given a presentation on wind renewable technology by company representative Thomas Chappell.
Speaking after the signing, Gordon Jenkins, the principal of North Highland College UHI, said: “We are delighted Whirlwind Renewables has decided to offer community support in this emerging sector which will ultimately contribute to the economic regeneration of the North Highlands.
“North Highland College is delighted to enter into this partnership and we look forward to further effective and beneficial collaboration in the future”
Mr Jenkins said the agreement will result in close collaboration between the two organisations.
“That will benefit our students’ learning experience and ensure they are well placed to enter the job market or further their careers. It involves the potential for exchanges, placements and, once the wind farm is operational, a fund which will benefit college students. The partnership will also give the college access to the most up-to-date technical know-how.”
Mr Chappell told the Caithness Courier the Wathegar 2 project is in the planning system at the moment with work due to begin on Wathegar 1 in the new year. He said the money would help “support skills development and employment opportunities, particularly in the renewable energy sector”.
He said: “We are hoping this will be part of a broadly-based relationship between the company and North Highland College. Everything went well on Friday and we are excited about the future options this agreement brings.”
The Wathegar 2 site is located on land near Flex Hill, Wathegar and Achairn wind farms, some eight kilometres west of Wick.