An ‘Immersive Hybrid Reality’ (iHR) laboratory, providing ultra-realistic training environments for offshore wind turbine technicians, was unveiled on 15 June at the Rosyth Campus of Fife College by Scottish Government Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.
The enhanced virtual reality system, installed at Fife College to enhance their training and development of the next generation of offshore wind turbine technicians, allows students to conduct detailed fault-finding inspections of the top of a virtual 7 megawatt offshore wind turbine, based on ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration 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 seemingly at the top of the turbine, over 110m above the waves. Combined with the sounds of the wind and changing weather conditions, it is said to provide one of the most realistic training environments anywhere in the world.
The iHR system has been developed by the Energy Skills Partnership, Heriot-Watt University and Middlesbrough-based visualisation specialists Animmersion UK, in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. The first phase has created a top-of-turbine inspection, with phase two to develop an inspection of the inside working of the turbine now underway.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said: “I am delighted to announce £50,000 of funding to the Energy Skills Partnership to continue and expand their excellent work. The Scottish Government is keen to support and celebrate the development of this immersive hybrid reality lab as it represents a tremendous opportunity to develop the skills and jobs required by the growing offshore renewables industry in Scotland.
“The lab promotes learning through exciting new technology ensuring that students are able to experience work activities within realistic site conditions, and as result learn without facing real health and safety risks.
“It is important that we continue to develop a workforce that is properly skilled and one that is familiar with new technologies and innovative practices that lead the way. It will no doubt be the skills and confidence of our workforce that help us build a stronger economy going forward and it is therefore right that we continue to invest in projects like this.”
Director of the Energy Skills Partnership, Jim Brown, said “With 25% of Europe’s total offshore wind resource, Scotland has a tremendous opportunity to develop the skills and expertise to design, install and maintain the energy industries of tomorrow.
“The Immersive Hybrid Reality turbine, developed with Heriot Watt, Animmersion and ORE Catapult, provides us with a genuinely world-leading facility for the development of the vital talent that we will need to seize upon that opportunity”.