Mark Goudie, who is studying Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, is the winner in the Energy category of the Telegraph STEM Awards, for devising the Wind Energy Reservoir Storage (WERS) system. The system takes energy from offshore windfarms when electricity is in surplus and uses it to pump water into oil reservoirs. When there is no wind to operate the turbines but electricity is still needed, the water stored in the reservoirs is used to generate electricity on oil platforms.
Mark will compete against the four other category winners to determine the overall STEM winner. They will present to a panel of judges, including Babcock International Group Chief Executive Peter Rogers and mathematician and TV presenter Rachel Riley, before the winner is announced in June.
Competition entrants were set the challenge of devising a way of storing energy temporarily, in an inexpensive and efficient way. Mark, who is 23 and from East Kilbride, developed his idea after a period of work experience with an engineering consultancy, in which he worked on processes for extending the life of systems and equipment on offshore platforms.
He said: “The work I did highlighted to me the ageing nature of the oil and gas infrastructure and the rising costs of extracting hydrocarbons from the North Sea. Recent falls in oil prices have also shown how volatile this industry can be.
“I wanted to use the engineering theory I’ve learned at Strathclyde to create a bridge between the renewable and oil and gas industries. There’s a challenge in the transition from mature oil and gas regions to the decommissioning of oilfields as production falls. There are also challenges in offshore wind power, where the installation of subsea structures is expensive and supply is intermittent.
“Combining these two industries could help in the transition towards greater use of renewable power generation. My education at Strathclyde has been geared towards energy – both oil and gas and renewables – and I have looked for an innovative solution to the problem of variable supply from renewable sources, while making the most of existing infrastructure and experience.”
Energy is a key area of expertise within the University of Strathclyde’s £89 million Technology and Innovation Centre. The University’s energy research is developing solutions to global challenges, including advanced renewables technologies, smart grids and leading-edge design for marine and aerospace electrical networks.