Xccelerator Experiences: Billia Croo Visit

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Last week, Robert Gordon’s University shared a report which indicated that Scotland’s offshore energy jobs could drop by 40% by 2030 if strides are not taken to advance the energy transition agenda in the next five years. With stakes increasingly higher for developing the workforce that will deliver the energy transition, Orkney has the potential to become a key asset in Scotland’s decarbonisation journey, by facilitating the roll-out of renewable technologies at a fast pace that allows for the creation of sustainable jobs today. X-Academy has recently expanded its presence to the island, with two xccelerators joining Xodus’ base in Stromness to complete a development experience that will kickstart their careers within the renewable industry. Our newest recruits, Duncan Munro and Parker Hanson shed light on why they chose to initiate their careers in Orkney and how they believe it will play an instrumental role in Scotland’s energy transition.

In early September, our two new xccelerators visited the European Marine Energy Council’s (EMEC) Billia Croo wave test site. As the world’s first and leading facility for demonstrating and testing wave and tidal energy converters, technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams, EMEC is also pioneering the development of a green hydrogen economy and smart local energy systems.

Their visit included a tour within the substation where electricity generated by wave energy is converted to be used in the national grid alongside engineer explanations of some of the data collection devices at use within the area.

Sites such as Billia Croo, which was constructed in 2003, will be key in accelerating alternative energy methods across Scotland. Though the technologies in these locations are developing at a rapid rate, it is essential that there is an active workforce in play ready to continue this work for future generations.

Parker and Duncan both studied at Heriot Watt’s Orkney campus and were passionate about bringing their passion and understanding of marine energy to local energy transition efforts. X-Academy offers them the opportunity to achieve this by providing them with real-life exposure to projects happening within the region.  

For Parker, visiting Billia Croo provided an opportunity to bridge the gaps in understanding between the theoretical concepts gained throughout his university qualification, with the complexity of contemporary application in real-world projects.

“Getting to see Billia Croo in person, seeing what was happening and hearing about upcoming projects that could make a fundamental difference to Orkney’s energy generation gave me a far greater understanding of the work being done by EMEC.”

“One of my key takeaways from spending the day at EMEC is that when talking to the hands-on engineers and site workers at Billia Croo, there’s a fundamental difference between theoretical devices and grid-ready electricity. There is so much potential for renewable activity in Orkney and I’m excited to become a part in discovering this.”

Duncan was already familiar with EMEC’s wave measurement technologies, having featured Billia Croo data in his dissertation. Exposure to the site in real time allowed him to form a deeper understanding of the role of such innovative technologies and identify why Orkney is a prime location for progressing the energy transition.

After using data gathered by EMEC’s waverider buoys in my dissertation, it was enlightening to be able to observe where the buoys were placed across the site and see them in action up close.”

“I am very excited to see what wave devices will be deployed here in the coming years and hopeful of the possibilities they will unlock. While I have only just started my journey with X-Academy I can already tell that it will be instrumental in developing my skills for a role that will bring great impact for my local community.”

Duncan and Parker will continue to collaborate with EMEC throughout their journey with X-Academy with the hopes of becoming a permanent fixture in Orkney’s renewables workforce.


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