Two sixth formers swapped part of their summer holiday to recover a control panel dropped from a vessel into the North Sea off Lowestoft.

But there’s no need for alarm – it was a hypothetical scenario designed by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) to ignite the imaginations of summer interns Alice Hill and J’Lan George.

The students from East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston, spent four weeks working with renewable energy experts from SPR’s East Anglia THREE offshore wind farm and its parent company Iberdrola, gaining insight into the industry generating homegrown green electricity and hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

Alice and J’Lan, who both live in Lowestoft, were based in SPR’s offices in the town’s renewable energy hub OrbisEnergy and worked with some of the team behind East Anglia THREE, which will be the world’s second largest offshore wind farm when it starts generating clean power in 2026.

They were faced with the hypothetical challenge of recovering a 50kg control panel roughly the size of a household fridge that had been dropped from a vessel during cable laying operations.

They came up with three potential solutions to recover the panel, taking account of health and safety, environmental factors and cost implications.

Alice, 18, is now studying for an engineering degree at Brunel University after achieving A-levels in maths, physics and German and a BTEC level three extended certificate in engineering.

​She said: “This internship has been invaluable for me as I want to pursue a career in engineering.

“It’s been great to work with SPR and talk to people within the business and have an insight into the team working in an industry at the forefront of our future.”

J’Lan, 19, is studying engineering and information technology after moving to Lowestoft from the Caribbean three years ago.

“I knew about offshore companies, but in a more generalised way. I’ve learnt now about the structure of windfarms and how much care and consideration is taken before any construction happens,” he said.

“It was challenging to find the best solutions for our scenario – determining the location and all the different factors that can affect recovery such as the types of species in the water and what is protected.

“I’ve taken many skills away from this including team working and being more responsible doing my research. It’s really helped me to socialise and build my confidence.”

Eastern Daily Press: J’Lan George and Alice Hill with Jack Brooke, global technical safety lead at ScottishPower RenewablesJ’Lan George and Alice Hill with Jack Brooke, global technical safety lead at ScottishPower Renewables (Image: ScottishPower Renewables)
SPR created the internships and wrote the challenge for Alice and J’Lan for their Coastal Energy Internship Programme, which provides bursaries for year 12 and 13 students for 20-day summer placements in the energy sector managed by The Ogden Trust.

The internship earns students valuable CREST awards, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) scheme run by the British Science Association, recognised by universities and potential employers.

Jack Brooke, global technical safety lead for SPR, said: “It’s been great to work with Alice and J’Lan and give them the opportunity to grow their skills and profile within the industry.

“We have a big pipeline of projects in the area that will produce enough green electricity to power millions of homes and ensure careers and jobs for years to come, so it’s vitally important that we support talent locally.

"With a scheme like this, we can get young engineers thinking about what goes into building a wind farm in context from the offset. And, who knows, we might see Alice and J’Lan back working with us in the future!”

Dr Catherine Richards, principal at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, said: “The opportunity to undertake an internship with such a prestigious employer and to spend time in industry is so important for our students.

"It helps them put what they have learnt in the classroom into context and practice, and to have that exposure to the working environment at first-hand is crucial."

Choong Ling Liew-Cain, programme manager at The Ogden Trust, said: “A 20-day placement with a company like ScottishPower Renewables provides a unique opportunity for young people to get their first experience of working in the energy industry.

“The programme is mutually beneficial; interns work on a business project for their host company and in doing so gain real-world experience, which sets them apart from the crowd.

"Many interns have gone on to work in the energy industry, adding to the next generation of the workforce.”