SSE apprentices working in offshore wind were today (20 Oct) hailed for their role in powering the UK’s efforts to get to net zero at a stop of its COP26 electric bus roadshow at Greater Gabbard, Lowestoft.
The visit of SSE’s ‘Road to Renewables’ electric bus to Ness Point – the most easterly point of the UK – is part of a two-week tour of green energy and sustainable transport projects culminating with the bus’s arrival in Glasgow just days before COP26 gets underway.
SSE has the largest offshore wind pipeline across the UK and Ireland at 7 GW and is currently leading the construction of more offshore wind than any company in the world. Greater Gabbard has 140 wind turbines and can power the equivalent of some 400,000 homes.
Today’s event highlighted two apprentice offshore wind turbine technicians: Jasmine Allen and Braidon Nurse, who are both passionate about their role at SSE in helping combat climate change.
Jasmine Allen, 21 from Beccles near Lowestoft, was inspired to work in offshore renewables after hearing tales from her grandfather who worked offshore in the oil and gas industry.
Jasmine, who trained at nearby East Coast College, said: “It was my grandfather who gave me the idea of working offshore as I loved hearing his tales of working at sea. He was in the oil and gas sector and of course I’m proud to work in renewables which really is the future in every sense.
“I would really recommend apprenticeships as you get to learn things out in the field that you don’t get from a classroom, and you get to see all the different parts of the job. I think highlighting work already being done to reduce emissions is really important in the run up to COP26, to ensure leaders and countries stick to the pledges they make on climate change.”
Like Jasmine, 20-year-old Braidon Nurse is into the third of his four-year apprenticeship at SSE and comes from the Southwold area. He said: “My work involves a lot of shadowing and learning on the job with lots of preventative maintenance and troubleshooting.
“I get to tackle a range of mechanical challenges so we can keep the turbines running, for example changing the input-output circuit boards, which help the turbines communicate with the control room onshore. It’s great being outdoors though it takes up to two hours to get there from the coast using a crew transfer vessel called Legend. Luckily, I haven’t been seasick yet!
“Working on the wind farm has made me realise how important renewable energy is in tackling climate change. I definitely feel like part of the solution, and I would recommend apprenticeships in renewables as you learn directly on the job from experienced people.”
John Stewart, HR Director at SSE, said Jasmine and Braidon were part of a ‘green army’ his company wanted to develop to build a better world of energy.
He said: “SSE is investing £4m a day in low-carbon energy and electricity infrastructure over the next five years. Achieving net zero will take a skilled and diverse workforce, so supporting more young people into a career in energy like Jasmine and Braidon will help build the green army we need to deliver a sustainable future.
“We need to offer young people a chance to build a career with long term prospects and we want them to forge a career at SSE on the frontline of net zero.”
Today’s event also heard from representatives at East Coast College as well as the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) which represents more than 200 members across the region, ranging from energy producers to supply chain companies.
Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, operated by SSE Renewables, is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (50%) and RWE Renewables (50%). The 504MW offshore wind farm is a pioneering project for the UK offshore wind industry and has been in operation since 2012, generating enough low-carbon renewable energy each year to power the equivalent of over 400,000 UK homes.
As part of the company’s Just Transition Strategy, SSE recently revealed that at least 1,500 of its employees are now working across low-carbon projects, having previously worked in high-carbon roles.
SSE is a major partner at COP26; and alongside the Go-Ahead Group, Alexander Dennis, BYD and SWARCO Smart Charging is using an electric bus tour to showcase examples of the national effort already underway to decarbonise energy and transport. The bus, which is a BYD ADL Enviro400EV electric double decker, was built in Britain by Alexander Dennis and BYD.
The ‘Road to Renewables’ tour kicked off in Northumberland Park electric bus depot in London on Monday 18th October and will take in projects in Oxford, Suffolk, Peterborough, Manchester, and North Berwick before concluding in Caledonia bus depot in Glasgow on Friday 29th October.
To track the bus’ journey, follow SSE Energy Solutions on Twitter @SSEB2B or the hashtag #RoadtoRenewables.