Sofia took on two Teesside University students as remote interns during 2020 to tackle the question of CO2 payback time for an operating offshore wind farm.
Both were MSc students studying for Advanced Practice, which incorporates a 13-week real-world internship devised to improve each students’ job prospects and give them a taste of the world of work.
The University developed the concept to create a mutually beneficial partnership whereby local companies provide a live topic and mentor the student as they work to tackle it over the 13-week period.
For the Sofia internships the topic was: “How long does it take an operating offshore wind farm to payback the CO2 that is used during manufacture and installation and it compares with C02 outputs from alternatives including fossil fuel power plants and the UK generation mix?”
The first student, Siti Hamzah – a graduate with MSc in Electrical Power & Energy Systems – started with the development of a spreadsheet tool that collates the data, including weight, length and mass of materials, from all the main components. This includes turbines, offshore converter platform, cables, onshore converter station, as well as the modelling of installation works including transport and vessels, to understand the contribution of the construction of Sofia to atmospheric CO2.
The second student, Tafazul Mohammed (pictured right) – a graduate with BSc in Civil Engineering – continued to refine and develop the spreadsheet, inputting real life data before comparing the CO2 with the estimated energy generation over the project lifetime, thus indicating the CO2 per gigawatt hour of electricity generated. He then set this against alternative generation types to see how long it takes before Sofia becomes carbon neutral compared to other forms of energy generation.
Of the internship Tafazul said: “I have had a great experience and now have a much better knowledge of offshore wind farms - a very interesting topic to work on. Carbon calculation was new to me and I can now far better relate my academic knowledge to the practical area of how wind farm components are manufactured and installed.
“I have learned a lot from the support of TU and Sofia, the challenging area has been how to perform all the calculations, but I have had good support on this.”
With the Covid situation, the year has been different as all the internships have been on-line, however they have still been seen as a valuable experience.
Teesside University’s Dr Gill Lacey, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering and Course Leader for MSc Power and Energy said that: “After their internships, the students come back and spend the next semester on their research project. More often than not this spins off from their internship and again supports their offering to the workplace.
“Comparing the research projects of the students who have done an internship with those that have not, it is clear that the experience has given them professional skills and confidence that the others lack. They are much more ready to work in a graduate role and can take on more complex tasks and deliver them on time.”
The internships were undertaken as part of Sofia’s Memorandum of Understanding with Teesside University, an agreement to cooperate on building capabilities to equip students for careers in the rapidly growing offshore wind sector.