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Students in a spin over wind turbines

Wednesday, 11th March, 2020 3:56pm

Repurposing water bottles and aluminium cans to make wind turbines was all in a module’s work for 130 undergraduates in UCC.

First-year engineering students are participating in an initiative to increase interest in energy engineering as part of a module sponsored by Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy whose Irish headquarters are in Cork.

Students were tasked with building both mini-wind turbines and mini-energy conversion devices, exclusively from waste-metal, along with other appropriate discarded materials. Among the materials used were old milk cartons, lollipop sticks, disused coffee tins, cardboard, plastic water bottles.

“The climate change agenda has never been as much to the fore nor had so much acceptance and support as it has today. This generation of engineers will have a major influence on how we decarbonise and reduce global warming in the future. It’s about creating solutions and thinking big while applying the technology in a micro-fashion while in university,” said Statkraft Ireland Managing Director, Kevin O’Donovan.

The students were expected to demonstrate an understanding of energy conversion in a renewable energy device, use basic principles of operation to design an energy conversion subsystem as well as carrying out a risk assessment.

“Work carried out to date has ensured that the Irish electricity grid system is operating successfully with renewable energy levels of up to 65 per cent at any given time, which proves that we are not that very far away from having a grid system which can be run almost exclusively on renewable energy. Inevitably, conversion and storage facilities are key to moulding the final pieces of this vital jigsaw,” said Mr O’Donovan.

Lecturer in Wind Energy Engineering in UCC, Paul Leahy said: “This is a magnificent module and our first time to engage collaboratively with a company like Statkraft on something like this. The wealth of ideas and sheer depth of creative thinking manifested by the students is extremely encouraging. I’d be confident that our future is in safe hands with energy engineers of this calibre graduating from UCC in the years ahead. We’re extremely grateful to Statkraft for facilitating the module which has been a resounding success.”

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