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SAMS part of award-winning renewables team

IDCORE students are joined by a pod of dolphins during a trip on the Easdale-based SeaFari Tours.
IDCORE students are joined by a pod of dolphins during a trip on the Easdale-based SeaFari Tours.

A training programme offered by SAMS UHI and academic partners to prepare research students for the offshore renewable energy sector has been recognised at the Scottish Green Energy Awards.

Led by the University of Edinburgh, the Industrial Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE), won the ‘Contribution to Skills Award’ at a glitzy, but virtual event on November 26.

Since its inception, the IDCORE programme has trained over 60 engineering doctoral students to directly support the offshore renewable energy sector.

As part of the programme, SAMS UHI shares its marine science expertise and makes use of the varied marine opportunity in and around Oban. During the first residential summer school the students are taught how renewable energy machines will interact with the natural environment and conversely how the environment interacts with them.

The students are introduced to the nature of the sea, including aspects such as the biology of marine mammals, birds, fish as well the myriad of organisms like barnacles that will grow on the machines and reduce their efficiency. They also learn about the laws around marine industries and why they matter for environmental protection.

In a second summer school, they learn about how their sector interacts in with other people’s interests and activities at sea, including aquaculture, shipping, tourism and governance.

Prof Ben Wilson, who coordinates the SAMS UHI programme, said: “New technologies harnessing renewable energy from wind, waves and tides offer us all huge hope for tackling climate change as well as generating skilled jobs around the world.

“However, it’s important the introduction of a new industry doesn’t impact the natural world or other users of the sea. Being able to broaden the perspectives of the brightest future engineers working in these sectors is a pleasure and an honour for the SAMS teaching team. To win the Contribution to Skills Award is a proud moment for us.”

IDCORE also involves the universities of Exeter and Strathclyde and is funded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The Scottish Green Energy Awards, organised by Scottish Renewables and headline-sponsored by EDF Renewables, is an annual celebration, which honours the people, organisations and communities making outstanding contributions to the future of renewable energy.

In a second success for the programme, IDCORE research and development engineer James Ferguson, who is based at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, won the Young and Inspiring Award category.

David Ingram, Director of IDCORE, said: “IDCORE works because of the tremendous support we receive from sponsor companies ranging from small SMEs to large enterprises like EDF and test centres like EMEC.

“I am delighted that the CDT, which has trained over 60 doctoral level researchers in offshore renewables, has been recognised by Scottish Renewables and even more delighted that our amazing research engineers, like James Ferguson, are also getting the recognition they deserve. Our amazing alumni will be the people who drive the decarbonisation of the energy sector.”

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