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Offshore wind farm funds will support state-of-the-art welding training

By Alan Hendry

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Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, tries her hand at augmented reality welding during Scottish Renewables' Offshore Wind Conference in Glasgow.
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, tries her hand at augmented reality welding during Scottish Renewables' Offshore Wind Conference in Glasgow.

Funding from a planned wind farm off the east coast of Caithness and Sutherland will help Scottish colleges meet the needs of the growing offshore renewable energy sector.

The support from Caledonia offshore wind farm will enable the Energy Skills Partnership (ESP) to supply augmented reality systems that will deliver state-of-the-art welding training.

The contribution forms part of a strategic relationship between Caledonia’s developer, Ocean Winds, and ESP – the college sector agency in Scotland for energy transition, zero-carbon transport, engineering, construction and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Augmented reality is an interactive tool that uses digital technology to enhance real-world experiences with computer-generated content.

Using the equipment will give students access to environments similar to those they can expect when working in the offshore industry.

The set of eight augmented reality systems can be booked by colleges to enhance their welding courses, while "train the trainer" sessions to prepare staff for using the equipment will also be offered.

The 2GW Caledonia project is being developed in the Moray Firth, to the east of the Beatrice, Moray West and Moray East sites, and could have as many as 150 turbines.

Caledonia held a public consultation event in Wick in November 2022 when a spokesman described offshore wind as "Scotland's powerhouse" and said developments in the Moray Firth were something that "people will be able to be proud of" as they brought new economic opportunities.

Caledonia project director Mark Baxter said: “This agreement represents Caledonia’s latest commitment to support the next generation of energy workers in developing the skills needed to excel in the offshore wind industry – a sector that is growing rapidly in Scotland.

“We’re dedicated to continuing our wide-ranging STEM engagement with Scottish schools, colleges and universities.”

ESP director Jim Brown said: “This funding from Caledonia presents a unique opportunity for students to develop the skills required to work on offshore wind projects such as those being developed in their region.

“As well as equipping students with competencies they need for their future careers, this collaboration will also address recognised skills gaps within the industry, helping to develop a workforce capable of reaching net-zero targets.”

Caledonia offshore wind farm is expected to start generation in 2030.

The site was awarded to Ocean Winds under the Scottish Government’s ScotWind process.

Ocean Winds, which has its headquarters in Madrid, is the result of a 50-50 joint venture by EDP Renewables and Engie.

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