East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre secures position on East Anglia ONE
Born and bred in the Norfolk coastal town of Great Yarmouth, 39-year-old Michael Montgomery was no stranger to the career opportunities available within the North Sea offshore energy industry.
Having trained as an engineer 20 years previously, before taking a differing career path into sales and business development, the father-of-two was always keen to return to a role which utilised his engineering skillset.
“Throughout my working life it has been my ambition to work offshore in the engineering sector as it is something I am extremely passionate about,” he explained.
“My grandad was a fisherman in Great Yarmouth and the void left in the town following the decline of fishing was filled by the oil and gas industry, so I was very aware from an early age about the potential job opportunities available right on my doorstep.
“As a student at Great Yarmouth High School (now Great Yarmouth Charter Academy) subjects such as science, design and technology were my favourites. Anything that involves problem solving and understanding how and why things work really interests me and I think this is where my passion for engineering stems from.”
After leaving school, Michael trained in engineering and fabrication at college with a view to going offshore to work in the oil and gas energy sector. However, at the time the route to work was not as streamlined as it is today and consequently Michael sought employment in alternative fields to support himself financially.
During this period he took roles in retail, technical field sales and business development for companies in the offshore industry, with the long-term goal of achieving an offshore engineering job remaining at the forefront of his thoughts.
Michael added: “Although I didn’t go directly into engineering, my time working in different job roles has broadened my skillset. I never stopped looking for ways to kick start my engineering career and with the arrival of the offshore renewable energy industry on the east coast, these opportunities have become far more readily available.
“However, the turning point for me came after I left my job to fully concentrate on seeking a route into the offshore renewables sector. I was reading a news article outlining that 3sun Group in Great Yarmouth and ScottishPower Renewables were working in partnership to host a course at the East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre, which offered key training for those looking to transition into a career in the offshore renewable energy industry.
“I applied and shortly afterwards received a call confirming my place on the course, it really was a whirlwind period for me but I was so pleased to be accepted and to commence training towards my dream job.”
The three week transition course, at East of England Offshore Wind Skills Centre, serves as an introduction into the world of engineering, covering topics including workplace scenarios and health and safety, in a bid to boost the pool of skilled technicians equipped to take advantage of the many career opportunities along the East Anglian coast.
With the support of his wife, Gemma, and their son and daughter, Michael completed his training before being announced as the first student from the course’s cohort to secure a job. Michael accepted the role of Offshore Wind Turbine Inspection Technician at 3sun Group for ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE windfarm.
Michael joins a team working as part of a £2.5 million contract awarded to 3sun Group by ScottishPower Renewables. The contract will see 3sun Group carrying out four major work packages; onshore and offshore services including labour from administrators to offshore technicians and supply materials, personal protective equipment, waste management, providing health and safety and Global Wind Organisation training.
“My family have given me so much help and I am very grateful to them for encouraging me to follow my dream. I am just thankful to be chosen by 3sun Group and ScottishPower Renewables as they have given me the chance to work on an extremely exciting project,” he said.
“Since getting the job I have been on cloud nine and my story shows to others that you should never stop chasing your dream, as if you work hard for anything you will succeed. I was worried at my age my chance may have gone but I have learnt starting a new career is possible at any age.”
Within one day of being appointed Michael was involved in making the first spade at the ground-breaking event marking the start of construction for ScottishPower Renewables’ new operations and maintenance building at Associated British Ports’ Hamilton Dock, Lowestoft; which will support the day-to-day operations of the East Anglia ONE windfarm.
East Anglia ONE will see 102 wind turbines installed in the southern North Sea, approximately 30 miles off the coast, as part of an overall £2.5 billion investment to meet the annual electricity demands of the equivalent of almost 600,000* homes.
Onshore construction work for the cable route and substation at Bramford, Suffolk, is also underway, with plans for the first turbines to be installed in 2019 and the windfarm to be fully operational in 2020.
The role of offshore wind turbine inspection technician will see Michael ensuring the turbines on East Anglia ONE are maintained and serve as safe working environments for all working on the windfarm. With the windfarm not set to be operational for a further two years, Michael will continue his development and training, through the support of both 3sun Group and ScottishPower Renewables, to make sure he is fully prepared for new role.
Michael said: “East Anglia ONE is a huge project for the area and brings with it so many job opportunities for the communities living in the region. As well as jobs, East Anglia ONE and other similar windfarms will bring further investment to the region as a whole and they showcase the potential the east coast can offer to other industries.
“I hope it is somewhere I will work for many years to come. Due to the diversity of the offshore energy sector there are various avenues I can take to further my career in the coming years and I am particularly interested in training others and using my experience to help them succeed on the same path I have taken.
“I would encourage anyone with a mechanical mind and passion for problem solving to consider a career in renewable energy. Not only because of the career prospects but also as energy provision is something that affects all areas of society.
“As someone with a young family, the fact that I will be helping produce clean energy, which reduces the impact on the environment, is very important to me as it means I will be contributing to a positive legacy for future generations to benefit from.”
Further details concerning East Anglia ONE can be found at www.scottishpowerrenewables.com.
About East Anglia ONE:
East Anglia ONE will see 102 wind turbines installed in the southern North Sea, approximately 30 miles off the coast. The overall investment will be in the region of £2.5 billion, and the project is planned to meet the annual electricity demands of the equivalent of almost 600,000 homes.
East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm project is likely to include:
- Offshore wind turbines and foundations (102 wind turbines to provide an installed capacity of 714 megawatts).
- An offshore substation to collect the electricity from the turbines and transform it to a form suitable for transfer to shore.
- Two offshore export cables, each around 85 km in length, to transfer the electricity to shore.
- A landfall site with onshore transition pits to connect the offshore and onshore cables.
- Six onshore underground cables, each of around 37 km in length, to transfer the electricity from landfall to an onshore converter station.
- An onshore substation adjacent to the existing substation at Bramford, Suffolk, to connect the offshore windfarm to the National Grid.
*Based on the following calculation: 714 MW (installed capacity) x 0.367 “offshore wind” average load factor (Digest of UK Energy Statistics) x 8,760 hours (hours per year)/3,900kwh (average domestic annual consumption) = 588,578 homes powered equivalent.
About ScottishPower Renewables:
ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola, a world leader in clean energy with an installed capacity of over 28,000MW, and the leading wind energy producer worldwide.
Responsible for progressing Iberdrola’s onshore wind and marine energy projects in the UK, ScottishPower Renewables also manages the development, construction and operation of offshore windfarms throughout the world and currently has 40 operational windfarm sites producing over 2,000 MW.