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New Energy World
New Energy World embraces the whole energy industry as it connects and converges to address the decarbonisation challenge. It covers progress being made across the industry, from the dynamics under way to reduce emissions in oil and gas, through improvements to the efficiency of energy conversion and use, to cutting-edge initiatives in renewable and low carbon technologies.
In the first of our interview series with Energy Institute members: Spotlight on Energy People, we learn about the career of Gino Antoine Leon AMEI, Wind Turbine Graduate Engineer at the Public Utilities Corporation in Seychelles, and glean his insights about the energy transition in the East African archipelago.
Q: Tell us your background and when you first became interested in energy?
A: I grew up in Mahé, Seychelles, an archipelago filled with nature, and became interested in energy at the age of 15 after seeing Seychelles commission its first 6 MW wind farm. Witnessing the power of renewable energy inspired me to pursue sustainable solutions. I delved into books and articles, studying engineering and specialising in renewable energy systems.
My upbringing and transformative experience ignited a lifelong passion for energy and a commitment to making a positive impact in the field.
Q: Tell us a little about your current job, industry, and location?
A: I am currently working as a Wind Turbine Graduate Engineer at the Public Utilities Corporation, the sole energy provider for the Republic of Seychelles. I am part of the service team responsible for the day-to-day operation of a wind farm. My role involves conducting inspections, performing maintenance checks, and troubleshooting technical issues.
The opportunity to work directly with wind turbines and contribute to clean energy generation is the most enjoyable aspect of my job, as well as the awesome view!
After graduating with a BSC Renewable Energy degree from the University of Exeter, I secured this position, allowing me to actively contribute to the success of the wind farm in Seychelles.
Q: How has being an Associate Member of the Energy Institute (AMEI) benefitted you in your career?
A: Being an Associate Member has greatly benefited my career. The Level 1 Energy Management Training offered by the EI has been particularly valuable, equipping me with knowledge and skills to optimise energy consumption in my role. The EI’s network and resources have kept me updated on industry trends and facilitated networking opportunities.
The AMEI designation has enhanced my professional profile and opened doors for career growth within the energy sector. Overall, my membership has had a significant positive impact on my career trajectory.
Q: How is your role and being part of the EI contributing towards a just transition to net zero?
A: There are challenges and opportunities toward a just transition to net zero. Challenges I face include managing intermittent wind resources, optimising energy storage solutions, and integrating new wind farm projects into the existing power grid infrastructure. Seychelles has limited land area, which can pose challenges for deploying large-scale renewable energy projects. Finding suitable sites for solar or wind installations may be challenging, and limited land availability can constrain the potential capacity of renewable energy projects.
However, given that Seychelles has a renewable energy target of 15% by 2030, it will present opportunities to innovate. Additionally, the modification of the country’s electricity act, which recently allowed for independent power producers to invest in energy, could reduce the government’s burden of accessing affordable financing options for renewable energy projects. This will allow more collaboration with local stakeholders to develop strategies for renewable deployment.
‘The opportunity to work directly with wind turbines and contribute to clean energy generation is the most enjoyable aspect of my job, as well as the awesome view!’
Q: What’s next for your sector? How do you see offshore wind in Seychelles developing in the next 5-10 years?
A: The seasonal variation of wind patterns in Seychelles significantly affects the production from wind farms. During the Southeast Monsoon (May to October), strong and consistent winds from the southeast create favourable conditions for wind energy production, with wind speeds ranging from 5 to 10 m/s. Wind farms can generate significant electricity output during this season.
In contrast, the Northwest Monsoon (November to April) brings lighter and less consistent winds from the northwest, resulting in lower wind speeds of 3 to 6 m/s on average. Wind farm production during this season is reduced but still contributes to the energy supply.
To overcome the impact of seasonal variations, strategies can be employed. These include careful site selection to identify areas with consistent winds, utilising turbine technology suitable for lower wind speeds, integrating wind farms with the electrical grid and implementing energy storage systems, diversifying the energy mix, and using accurate wind forecasting models for effective planning and operation.
By considering these strategies, wind energy projects in Seychelles can optimise their production, maximise renewable energy generation, and contribute to a sustainable energy future for the country. While there are currently no planned offshore wind energy projects in Seychelles, considering the country's commitment to achieving 15% renewable energy, exploring the offshore energy potential, particularly offshore wind, could prove essential.
Q: What success stories do you have from your work/career?
A: One notable achievement was my involvement in a grid upgrade project from 11 kV to 33 kV. This upgrade was crucial for accommodating the increasing number of PV projects in the area, allowing for greater integration of solar energy into the grid.
Furthermore, I had the privilege of participating in the commissioning of a 5 MW and 1 MW solar farm project on Romainville Island. These solar farms, along with the existing wind farm, played a significant role in helping the region achieve a 5% renewable energy target by the end of 2020. This accomplishment marked a significant milestone in the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.
Being a part of these projects has provided me with valuable hands-on experience in renewable energy infrastructure development, grid integration, and the successful commissioning of large-scale solar farms.
Q: What advice would you give to a student interested in working in offshore wind?
A: Pursue this career path with enthusiasm and confidence. The offshore wind industry is rapidly expanding due to advancements in turbine technology, including larger sizes that capture more wind energy and improve cost-efficiency. With vast wind resources, reduced visual impact, potential for high-capacity projects, supportive policies, and ongoing technological advancements, offshore wind offers promising career opportunities.
Stay updated on industry trends, acquire relevant technical skills, gain practical experience through internships, and build a strong professional network to position yourself for a rewarding and impactful career in the growing field of offshore wind.