‘The Wind Farm Challenge’ is an annual competition in Kent hosted by Danish Oil & Natural Gas (DONG Energy), KCC Skills and Employability Service, Thanet College and Swale Skills Centre. Eight secondary schools from across the different districts of Kent were invited to design and pitch the best wind farm array model and business plan. The teams were required to consider the wider aspects of constructing wind turbines in the context of their local communities; to spend time researching the wind farm industry in and around Kent, including wider UK developments; and to prepare a marketing case to sell the concept of wind generation to their local community.
This year we bettered our previous attempt at the competition by bringing home the first prize, an all expenses paid trip to Denmark. The team of six lower- sixth formers: Matt Cornford, Henry Groenen, Luke Gray, Bill Hardiman, Lewis Bowen and Team Leader Barnaby Tysoe spent two days in July at the ‘Swale Skills Centre’ in Sittingbourne where we were presented with, planned and executed the four phases of the project.
Four members of the winning team pictured with Mr Lennon, Deputy Headmaster
Specifically designed and scaled for students the competition required a balance of mathematical, computer, engineering and business skills to be successful. It involved; a research phase, where we had to investigate and select our desired set-up; a technical phase, to build and test our turbine model; a period to prepare the business ‘pitch’ and finally the end game where we presented our plan to the ‘Board of Investors’.
Over the two days we completed the project phase by phase with specific deadlines to meet concerning the speed at which our plan developed and the need for approval from the competition administrator. With a DONG apprentice helping and watching us, the need for team work and discipline was essential. In our team we further divided the group to specific roles such as technical manager, business planner or team leader. This proved key to our success as it was in part our recognition of how the roles fitted together in a business, that so impressed the judges in favour of our design.
Our end product was a controversial yet successful six-bladed turbine wind array consisting of 150 turbines 39km off the Lincolnshire coast. Our design proved economically viable plus we had the raw data and statistical analysis to present a fully costed and coherent business plan. With a significant contribution by Matt Cornford our presentation amazed the judges through its excellent level of detail and use of visual aids which were able to convey and justify all our decisions. The ‘Apprentice’ style presentation to the business panel went smoothly and we were able to present a strong business case for the technical merits and economic viability of our plans.
We discovered that we had won the competition when attending the KCC Celebration of Learning awards ceremony in Gravesend on 16 July where our winning design was cited for its: ‘Realistic and viable plan, excellent use of statistical manipulation, impressive and technical presentation and no weaknesses in the preparation and teamwork that went in to it’s creation.’ We will now be taking two days in November 2012 visiting sites of interest in Denmark with a specific emphasis on engineering and renewable energy. Many thanks to Mr Lennon and Mr Walters for making all the necessary arrangements for our participation in this competition.
Barnaby Tysoe, Year 12
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