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23 Sep 2019

Scottish Renewable Energy Festival – Internships at GreenPower

Over the next few days we will feature short commentries from a few people who have had internships with GreenPower. This first one is from Tom Meophan:

Tom harnessing wind and wave power

Sustainability has to be viewed with an aim to do more good instead of simply doing less harm, and widespread renewables presents a great opportunity to achieve this. In order to try and become a useful instrument in this transition, I am currently studying Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of Exeter. The course has given me a good understanding of the fundamental engineering principles that govern all forms of renewable energy as well as an appreciation for the relevance of government policy. In order to deepen my understanding of the industry, I was keen to try and get an internship with a renewable energy company and GreenPower offered the perfect opportunity to achieve this.

My time at GreenPower focused around the feasibility of a potential small scale run of river hydro site in Stirlingshire. This involved finding the catchment area available for the scheme and with respect to the rainfall profile of the area, calculating the flow that could be extracted in order to generate electricity. This data allowed an accurate estimation of the annual electricity output of the site and thus give an indication of its feasibility. Alongside this, a desk-based study of the site was performed which allowed a preliminary design for the position of the inlets, powerhouse and penstocks. In order to ensure that the design was feasible, we did a site visit. This was one of the highlights of the internship as wandering around a beautiful Scottish hillside with the GreenPower CEO Rob Forrest and hydro expert Richard Langley was very beneficial in improving the initial site plans but also it was great to listen and engage with two individuals at the top of their respective fields.  All of my findings were then compiled into a report which can be referred to in future if funding becomes available again for small scale renewable generators.

Alongside my work on the hydro site, I also created an informative document on the barriers that electric vehicle charging infrastructure presents to the wider adoption of electric vehicles. This involved looking at governmental policy and how it was affecting the market and what industry leaders thought about the policy.  It was a really interesting task with the most eye-opening resource being a transcript of discussions between industry leaders and government officials as part of a call for information on the success and pitfalls of their previous policy.

The internship gave me a great insight into a professional workplace, which is invaluable as it pushed me to produce high-quality work. However, the key take away from the experience for me was seeing the extraordinary amount of hard work that is performed by GreenPower staff on a daily basis. Going forward in my academic and professional life with that as a benchmark will benefit me greatly.  This internship has reinforced my support of renewable energy and my pursuit of a career within the industry.