Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST)

John Cunningham

NIE Moyle Interconnector

Photo of John CunninghamIndustrial placement at Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE)

John Cunningham spent his Loughborough MEng placement year working on large scale electrical projects with Northern Ireland Electricity and then rounded it off with a trip to Panama before commencing his MSc Renewable Energy Systems Technology.....

"During my industrial placement, I worked for Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE). I was based in the Power Networks department in Belfast and undertook a major research and development project.

Ireland, being quite a windy place, has seen substantial growth in wind energy recently. It takes time for planning and construction of reinforcements of the (high voltage) electricity transmission system to allow it to cope with the increase in wind farm connections. I was given responsibility for researching how the capacity of existing overhead lines could be increased when weather conditions are favourable, the idea being that windy weather means more capacity, just when it is needed.

I was also involved in monitoring the effects of small wind turbines on the power quality of the local (low voltage) distribution system. It was interesting to find out how well the electricity supply matched up to (or in some cases didn't) the applicable standards and how renewable energy generation can both improve and degrade the quality.

My placement has given me a practical understanding of the technical challenges faced in integration of renewable energy on both a large and small scale. I find this whole area of integration fascinating and hope to get more experience in this area in both my studies and work.

During my course, I also had the opportunity to travel. I undertook a summer placement in Panama, working in a university postgraduate energy laboratory on the design of a small wind turbine. The placement has broadened my experience and my Spanish has greatly improved as it was the language used in the workplace and with my host family.

Needless to say, this experience was extremely rewarding, enjoyable and worthwhile.

I can't understand why anyone wouldn't do an industrial placement.

Just go for it!