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University of Chester - Work Based Learning Placement

Sanquhar - Lois

During my five-week placement at Community Windpower I have been able to gain invaluable insight into the project development process of planning for an onshore wind farm. This has opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me in the renewable energy industry after I finish my university degree next year.

I have been able to learn a huge amount about onshore wind farm development and the number of challenges developers face. I have also been able to gain knowledge in some solar planning policies through working on proposed solar projects.

I was provided the opportunity to develop a proposal for a new onshore wind farm site which enabled me to carry out my own research and responsibility for the site’s initial feasibility. I had my friendly supervisor, Project Manager DeAnna Wooler, and the enthusiastic Projects Team to ask for help when I needed it. Throughout my placement I have also been able to contribute to the Projects Team’s tasks, giving me experience of what ‘real’ work requires and an insight into a working office environment, which I wouldn’t have been able to gain without this placement.

This opportunity has helped me build on my skills such as learning new tools and features in ArcGIS Pro to find the most appropriate site for a wind farm. I created a range of maps exploring constraints and features of the area such as slope, windspeed, conservation and residential areas. This showed me that site searching is complex and that there are many constraints to consider when choosing a site. Being able to apply my previous knowledge of ArcGIS Pro to a real situation has been valuable to my skills development.

I enjoyed learning that Community Windpower give back to their host communities, encouraging a more sustainable future, while investing into local organisations and legacy projects. I particularly enjoyed a site visit to Sanquhar Community Wind Farm, located in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, as I got to explore an operational site with CWL’s on-site Senior Operations Manager Tam Downie. Moreover, it gave me the chance to visualise sites and places that I had worked on in the office and other team members had discussed. We also had a meeting with a consultant about planning access routes and the possible problems this can cause. This was a special and exciting experience, one which I will never forget.

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