Theresa May opens the UK’s ‘first’ biomass training facility at further education college
Biomass company LC Energy has partnered with Berkshire College of Agriculture and Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver the facility. The collaboration is an effort to address the nationwide skills shortage in the renewable energy sector.
The opening of The Energy Centre at Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) is intended to enable students aged between 16 and 19 to gain accredited technical qualifications in renewable energy.
The UK has been allocated a target to increase the proportion of its renewable energy use to 15% by 2020. There is currently a shortfall of 50% in the 12% target for the generation of heat from renewable sources.
LC Energy believes that extending access to approved and accredited technical education and training in renewable energy is essential to addressing the skills shortage in the UK and to reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. As such, the company has installed a training biomass boiler at a UK College of Further Education to facilitate accredited training for the next generation of heating and plumbing engineers.
Prime Minister Theresa May attended the opening and says: “It’s vital that young people have the education and skills to take on the jobs needed for the future. So I was pleased to be able to meet with students who, through using the new energy centre, will be given the training and opportunity to make a real difference to help protect our planet for future generations.”
BCA principal Gillian May says that the college enrolled 12 new apprentices in April 2018 for the renewable energy programme and associated courses. There are currently two biomass boilers and engine rooms on campus.
Matthew Woodcock, the partnerships and expertise manager at the Forestry Commission, says the wood fuel strategy for England is to reverse the decline in woodland biodiversity by increasing the number of sustainably managed woodlands.
“Here in the South East, the most wooded region in England, the biomass industry is key to the economic viability of woodland management. The move by LC Energy and BCA to increase awareness and training opportunities for 16-19 year olds in biomass engineering careers is vital to creating more jobs and developing a vibrant and sustainable biomass industry."