The University of Aberdeen has today launched the UK's first postgraduate degree programme in Energy Transition Systems and Technologies.
The new course, which is available to study full-time on campus from September (depending on Covid-19 situation), or part-time online, reinforces and builds upon the city’s reputation as a major international energy centre.
It will educate to MSc level a new generation of systems engineers providing industry-relevant skills and training, with future career possibilities in all areas of the energy sector.
Based in the School of Engineering, with expert contributions from the Schools of geosciences, business and law, the new Masters programme will draw on much of the ground-breaking research being conducted within the University’s Centre for Energy Transition (CET).
The launch of this programme represents one of several exciting energy developments in the region, including the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) and the OGTC, both national centres of excellence for the oil and gas sector. The North East already boasts many large scale infrastructure projects such as the Kincardine Floating Offshore Wind Farm, the Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage project and the planned renewable energy superhighway linking Scottish offshore sectors and to the English mainland.
Programme director Professor Russell McKenna said the city’s heritage and global reputation as the energy capital of Europe meant that it was perfectly placed to be hosting the UK’s first such degree programme.
He said: “This course was set up to fill a gap and meet a need. In recent years, non-hydrocarbon based energy has grown significantly in Aberdeen due its large talent pool of energy engineers and scientists, and the abundance of wind and ocean energy resources off the Aberdeenshire coast.
“The past 20 years has seen increased interest in more sustainable energy systems. The transition towards these systems has gathered momentum, aided by new technological innovations in areas such as wind and tidal energy, energy storage, carbon capture and storage, biofuels and hydrogen. Energy transition, however, continues to pose significant technological, commercial and political challenges for businesses and governments.
“Energy transition engineers are faced with the challenge of redesigning our entire energy infrastructure while ensuring continued access to reliable and affordable energy. To achieve this, we must understand how to successfully integrate Low Carbon Technologies (LCTs) into our current and future energy systems.”
With an emphasis on the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy types through the integration of LCTs into current and future energy systems, the programme will encourage students to take a ‘systems-thinking’ approach to energy transition.
It will also combine technical knowledge of individual LCTs - including energy efficiency technologies and renewable energies such a wind, solar and ocean energy – with non-technical aspects, such as economic and political developments.
Karl Axel Pétursson, Systems Engineering Specialist at Vestas, welcomed the new degree programme. “We need highly skilled and trained Systems Thinkers to enable renewable energy sources to become an ever larger part of the energy system. The complexity involved is challenging and a systems thinking toolkit is needed to understand both the technical and social aspects of the transition ahead.”
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn said: “It’s great to see that the University of Aberdeen is breaking new ground with this innovative course, which takes a holistic approach by encompassing all these key aspects in an innovative postgraduate degree programme. We need to attract a wide and diverse range of people into this rapidly-expanding sector and courses like this will create new opportunities in growth industries for the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs.”
OGUK’s Workforce Engagement & Skills Manager Alix Thom said: “Today’s announcement by the University of Aberdeen, already respected globally for its world-class energy programmes in oil and gas, is both timely and encouraging.
“Courses like this will be key to harnessing and promoting the creative thinking that is required to develop solutions to unlock the challenge of net-zero.”
Alex Murley, Head of Project Management & Optimisation, RWE Renewables, also gave his support for the news: “Aberdeen has long been at the forefront of national and regional energy technology transitions. In the year of Scotland’s hosting the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26), and in the context of gathering global consensus regarding the required scale, speed, and form of societal transition required to meet Net Zero Carbon objectives, it is comforting to see the University of Aberdeen launch a new degree programme dedicated to creating the industrial and academic leaders of this energy transition’s future.”
Ander Madariaga, Grid & Connections Lead at Ocean Winds, said: “Ocean Winds is committed to local content and benefiting the local communities hosting our projects. We are therefore keen on supporting energy programmes by Scottish Institutions such as Aberdeen University School of Engineering and its new Energy Transition Systems and Technologies MSc Programme.
“We are looking forward to engaging with the graduates in their specialization journey on Energy Systems and Technologies on our collective travel towards NetZero2050. Ocean Winds is a key global player, with ambitious expansion plans, open to meet new talent considering their future into this young and dynamic industry. Subject to our growth in the UK, we are seeking to engage with Aberdeen University and others by means of teaching activities, career fairs and hosting interns in our exciting project portfolio.”
The University of Aberdeen’s School of Engineering is renowned for its world-class energy programmes in oil and gas, renewable energy and subsea engineering. Energy Transition is one of the five Interdisciplinary Challenges prioritised in the University’s Aberdeen 2040 strategy.
For more information about the MSc in Energy Transitions Systems and Technologies, which will be available both on campus and online, go to: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgt/etst/