Introducing HIE’s New Offshore Renewables Graduate

I recently joined Highlands & Islands Enterprise, where I have been warmly welcomed into the Energy & Low Carbon Team here in Cowan House, Inverness.  I am here on a one-year graduate placement working as Supply Chain Co-ordinator for the Offshore Renewables sector and I am delighted to have secured this position.

In my role I will be actively working with other members of my team on matters related to the offshore renewables supply chain – offshore wind and marine energy.  I will be responsible for helping companies to diversify and expand, as well as engaging with the thriving offshore renewables sector.

I have always had a strong interest in renewable energy and the environment, and issues related to energy efficiency, sustainability, climate change and global warming.  I also have an interest in planning and building design and layout.  I wish to be involved in increasing the share of renewable energy systems and to aid in the movement towards a sustainable energy future.

I am originally from Ireland and it was here that I attended University College Dublin (UCD) for four years.  I first graduated in 2011 with an Undergraduate degree (BA Hons) in Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy.  I then went on to complete a Masters degree (MSc) in Sustainable Energy and Green Technologies, graduating in December 2012.

From my Undergraduate studies I gained an in-depth understanding of the planning process, planning applications, environmental policies, regulations and legislation as well as urban, rural and landscape design.

Through my Masters degree I have gained substantial knowledge of renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, energy systems integration, sustainable environments, life cycle assessments and energy generation to name a few.

I was also required to complete a research thesis as part of my Masters degree.  The title of my thesis wasA Study to Assess the Feasibility of Increased Development of Offshore Wind Farms, off the Coast of Ireland, in Relation to the Current EU Offshore Capacity, and the Potential Implications”

This study first provides a review of wind energy in general, looking at legislation and energy policies, wind resources and capacity potentials throughout the EU, integration of wind energy, barriers and issues and the importance of increased R&D.

It then goes on to look in more detail at the offshore wind sector focusing on the advantages and disadvantages, offshore developments and associated costs, technology, foundations, operation and maintenance, design, and environmental considerations for offshore developments.  The planning procedure in Ireland for offshore wind development is examined, which delves into the legal framework, the planning process, issues with the foreshore consent system and the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan.  Targets and policies which are aimed towards offshore wind generation are also examined, including EU targets and policies, including case study examples as well as a focus on Ireland.  The Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff is also discussed.

The project also looks at wind energy resources at an EU level and at an Irish level, providing some case study examples and details of Ireland’s offshore projects and current status as well as an examination of Irish territorial waters and resource potentials.

The affects of climate change on wind resources provides an insight into the wind climate across the EU, wind variations and the impacts for wind farms and turbines.

Grid connection and infrastructure initiatives are also discussed which looks at the grid system which is in place and proposed grid infrastructure projects, such as the Supergrid, and how these may help or hinder future deployment.

So far in my role I have gained a lot of insight into Scotland’s energy sector and the major development potential which exists for the region.  I have been tasked with updating offshore renewables supply chain capability information which has been extremely useful to familiarise myself with the sector and its major players. 

My next blog entry, which will be uploaded in the next few days, will discuss the Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition which was held in Aberdeen on January 29th and 30th.

One last thing, I know that my name has been causing widespread confusion as to how to actually pronounce it – I can’t blame anyone but my parents in this instance!  For those of you who are curious, it’s pronounced Cweeva …….. I realise the way it’s really spelt would not lead anyone to this conclusion, but that’s the Irish for you!

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