Vattenfall's turbine top experience inspires families to investigate careers

TMS Media

Working at the top of an offshore wind turbine is being brought to life for children by Swedish energy group Vattenfall using virtual reality technology.

Technology and games that tell the story of the new industry taking shape off the east of England coast and the

wide range of job roles generated by the industry are part of a skills programme designed by Vattenfall and its student ‘consultants’.

Children - and their parent and grandparents - from across the county are discovering what it feels like to inspect the engineering at the top of a 150m turbine tower generating electricity off the coast.

The virtual reality experiences take them by boat to turbines 40 km off the coast where they take a lift to the top and inspect the mechanics, on a tour lead by an offshore wind technician.

The programme is part of Vattenfall’s implementation of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal in Norfolk.

Susan Falch-Lovesey, Vattenfall’s Local Liaison Officer and Skills Champion, said a “phenomenal” number of people had experienced the tours and discovered about offshore wind development and its careers at its latest event at Norwich Science Festival.

“Children, young people, parents and grandparents leave knowing more about the offshore wind industry, the range of jobs it offers and the green clean energy being produced.”

“We really want young people in the East of England to have opportunities from the growth of the wind industry."
Vattenfall, driving for fossil-fuel free living within a generation, plans to build two of the world’s biggest wind farms, Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, off the Norfolk coast.

Six-year-old Caleb Fadhel queued patiently for his tour to the top of a turbine with his mum, Rachael, and three -year-old sister, Aiyah.

He described standing on the top of the turbine and the boat trip as “amazing and exciting.”

His mother, Rachael, of Norwich, said: “This is a great careers tool, especially for children because it’s fun and informative.

“It is good that children can grow up finding out about more careers than the fire, police and doctor-type jobs that they see.”

Phoebe Green, 11, of Gorleston, described looking over the side of the top of a turbine out to sea as a “brilliant” feeling, which brought to life the turbines she sees off the coast of Great Yarmouth.

Vattenfall’s student ‘consultants’ Jovita Beeston, Maisie Hubbard and Sarah Milford, all A level students at the University Technicial College Norfolk students, and Sharna Ford-Busson, from East Norfolk Sixth Form, Gorleston, who all completed four-week East Coast Energy Internships with the company in the summer, have been supporting the programme to expose as many children and young people to the opportunities.

The interns designed a Wind Walk quiz and talk children through Top Cables, a Top Trumps-style game with facts and figures about the giant cables linking offshore wind turbines to substations and the National Grid at the Science Festival, which Vattenfall sponsored.

Jovita, 17, from Acle and studying triple engineering at the University Technical College Norfolk, hopes to move on to a degree apprenticeship in renewable energy with ambitions to work offshore constructing and engineering turbines.
“Children get so engaged and excited by such a small taste of offshore wind and renewable energy. It is fantastic.

“They enjoy the activities so much. When they get on to the turbine, a technician walks them through. They go up to the nacelle and are talked through the different parts and the mechanics before going outside to enjoy the view.”

Angus Binnian, spending his third year of a four-year energy engineering degree at the University of East Anglia working with Vattenfall on its Norfolk projects at its London office, regularly represents Vattenfall at events.
“People have been really interested and informed about offshore wind. There is definitely an appetite to find out more about the industry and Vattenfall’s plans.”

Working with young people is key to Vattenfall’s ethos.

Vattenfall hopes to win consent in December for its 1.8 GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm, more than 47km from the Norfolk Coast adjacent to its proposed Norfolk Boreas, which also 1.8GW.