A Wind of Opportunity for Donegal

LYIT lays the foundation to make Donegal a centre of excellence for wind energy.

Wind EnergyLetterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) will be the first college in Ireland to offer a Wind Energy Technician programme with BZEE accreditation and it will be the first location in Ireland to have a wind turbine training tower, training nacelles and blades.  This is part of a collaborative approach to make Donegal a centre of excellence in Wind Energy.

There is almost 240MW of installed capacity in Donegal making it the county with the largest concentration of wind generated electricity in the country.  “One of LYIT’s strategic objectives is the economic development of the regional economy, “explains President Paul Hannigan.  “The introduction of the Wind Energy Technician accredited course is laying the foundation to make Donegal the leader in Wind Energy.  Everyone can see the potential and we’ve received valuable support from Donegal County Council, FÁS and the Donegal County Development Board.”

The development of the Green Economy is also one of the Donegal County Development Board’s priority objectives.  There is a real desire to see Donegal become a centre of excellence in Wind Energy.  In December, the Donegal County Development Board unanimously supported the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Renewable Technology at the LYIT campus. This will be run through a fully joined up approach, comprising members from LYIT, Donegal County Council, FÁS, Údarás and Donegal VEC – collectively known as the Education and Training Consortium for Renewable Technology.

The Wind Energy Technician course at LYIT was advertised in 2009 and received a staggering response, 132 applicants for 16 places.  Many of the people who applied had been made redundant from construction and the programme offers a new career in a growing industry.

Dr John Doran, Head of Department of Electronic & Mechanical Engineering at LYIT, is very enthusiastic about the programme, “Donegal is the perfect place for a centre of excellence in Wind Energy.  Already we’re seeing many people who are interested in coming back to education and retraining, there are many opportunities in this area, and it’s steadily growing.”  John recently travelled to Germany along with lecturers from a French College to undertake further training in Wind Energy Engineering, including scaling turbines up to 80 metres high to carry out endoscopic inspections of gearboxes.

Wind Energy 2LYIT was successful in its application to run a Higher Certificate in Wind Energy Technician under the Labour Market Activation initiative and signed an agreement with BZEE to run this recognised course.  BZEE is a German education centre for renewable energies - Bildungszentrum für Erneuerbare Energien - BZEE e.V.  It is the only education and training programme currently for wind service technicians with worldwide recognition.

The Wind Energy Technician course will be integrated into LYIT's proposed Level 7 courses and it will include 6 weeks’ industrial placement.  The college has engaged personnel from many of the big players in the industry, Siemens, B-9 Energy, Airtricity and Nordex.

LYIT wants to install a wind turbine training tower on its campus, subject to planning permission.  It will also purchase two complete nacelles for education and training which will enable the setting up of a nacelle repair workshop and a rotor blade repair workshop.  This will allow students gain first hand experience in dismantling and rebuilding the gearbox, blade and generator systems of a typical wind turbine.

This could bring a whole new wave of opportunity for Donegal making the county a benchmark for leading the way in wind energy in Ireland, which ultimately will open up new opportunities for many people.

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 00:00:00 BST

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