Apprentices net zero in on transforming BAE Systems’ premises

BAE Systems may design and build the complex warships for the Royal Navy, but it is the creative ideas from apprentices taking their Fuel Change Challenge, which they hope will transform their shipyards and office buildings towards net zero emissions.

BAE Systems is one of six challenges – four from Scottish Innovation centres and one from Arcola Energy Ltd jointly with DER Centre Scotland – who are all setting tasks for apprentices who have signed up for the second Fuel Change Challenge, to develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry and society.

Sharon Young, Head of Environmental Sustainability at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “Historically, traditional shipbuilding would not have been considered the most environmentally sustainable of industries. However, times are changing and we recognise the need to accelerate our response in relation to climate change, including the alignment of our business with the goals of the Paris Agreement for both our products and our facilities. 

“Our challenge, therefore, is for apprentices to identify and present a plan/proposal of innovative, yet practical ways to upgrade and retrofit our buildings, many of which are over 100 years old and sit on the River Clyde, to be lower or net zero carbon.

“One of the ways they could do this is to move towards renewables, including on-site generation, but we would like them to think more creatively, considering other energy sources that might not be the traditional wind or solar. For example, are there opportunities for renewable power from the river, are there new ideas and innovations that we should be considering? We can’t wait to find out what they come up with.”

Viktoryia Parkhamovich, a Modern Apprentice with General Electric Caledonian, Prestwick, worked on last year’s Fuel Change Challenge developing an idea around the remarkable CO2 absorption qualities of seaweed. She said: “Our idea could potentially make a difference to the world and our excitement levels are over the moon. My message to the next cohort of Fuel Change apprentices would be to go for it, think outside the box and do everything possible to prove it can be done. Our Fuel Change idea started as a dream and if you have the opportunity to do it you will love it!”

The Scottish Innovation Centres involved in setting challenges are Glasgow based Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), CENSIS – Scotland’s centre of excellence for sensing, imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, The Data Lab in Edinburgh and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) based in Hamilton. DER Centre Scotland draw on expertise from Universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow, St Andrews and Edinburgh.