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Case Study

Wind and Marine Training Network

A unique partnership between ESP, Heriot-Watt and ORE Catapult has delivered a world-first ‘Immersive Hybrid Reality’ (iHR) offshore wind turbine that is developing the next generation of offshore wind technicians, and educating thousands about careers in the sector.

Heriot-Watt is a world-leader in the development of virtual reality. Recognising the potential, ESP and Heriot-Watt, with support from Scottish Government and Fife College, commenced a programme to develop a novel offshore wind industry training system. ORE Catapult provided detailed models of their 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine, and the industry expertise of their team, ensuring that the development was at the cutting edge of industry developments. With additional computer gaming capabilities, the team have developed a virtual inspection of the top of the turbine’s nacelle, with the inside of the nacelle .  A phase 3 version has also been developed which allows students and those aspiring to join the sector and experience of the whole turbine.

The unique hybrid element combines the real and virtual worlds, allowing users to see their own hands and feet, real tools or manuals, whilst identifying common faults (eg, icing, blade erosion, fouling etc), seemingly 110m above the waves. Combined with the sound of the wind and changing weather, it provides one of the most realistic training environments in the world.

The iHR has two manifestations: a fixed training Laboratory, hosted at Fife College in Rosyth, and 6 mobile units. Over 30 staff from ESP’s Wind & Marine Training Network colleges, Glasgow Science Centre and ORE Catapult have been trained in its use and it has been used extensively across Scotland to support SSTEM activities for schools as well as those following the Wind and Marine Training Network’s Wind Turbine Technician course.

To date, over 400 apprentices and students have used the iHR Laboratory as part of their training. Mobile units have been used at skills and science fairs, exhibitions and other major events, engaging with well in excess of 8000 people of all ages, providing an exciting insight into careers in offshore wind, and raising the profile of the industry with politicians and other key stakeholders.