Discover how ONRG’s bespoke assessment and training package focused on high-voltage safety and authorisation is helping to power businesses in the energy sector.

Based in Buxhall, Suffolk, ONRG delivers specialist services for high-voltage networks, substations and offshore transmission systems (OFTOs).

Offering consultancy, technical project management, operations and control, and electrical safety training, the company is enjoying rapid growth thanks to the success of its strategic partnerships with local service providers for its customers that include ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE.

But its impact is not only in the East of England. An oil and gas commissioning company recently approached the business to utilise ONRG’s strategic background to penetrate the US market.

Initially developed by ONRG for ScottishPower Renewables, the Performance Assessment Training Hub (PATH) helps businesses in the energy sector develop the skills of their workforce so they can become senior electrical engineers. ONRG’s training is designed for personnel operating under their firm’s mandatory electrical safety rules in accordance with the UK’s Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Eastern Daily Press: ONRG project manager and asset integrity manager Mark KimberONRG project manager and asset integrity manager Mark Kimber (Image: ONRG)

“Every company working with a high-voltage network has a responsibility to have suitably trained and skilled individuals authorised to work on it,” said ONRG project manager and asset integrity manager Mark Kimber.

Mark, who is responsible for the training that ONRG provides, said the company has now established a good track record with its success upskilling workers in the energy sector to authorisation levels including Competent Person (CP), Authorised Person (AP), Senior Authorised Person (SAP), Control Engineer (CE) and Authorising Engineer (AE).

“ScottishPower, for example, now has technicians carrying out operations on wind farms and providing safety precautions because we’ve trained and developed them up to AP level.”

Career PATH

Everybody enrolled in PATH so far has unequivocally gone on to achieve authorisation. But how does it work?

“We assess their performance and create the training programme using an assessment tool,” Mark said.

“First, we evaluate candidates’ current knowledge regarding how their knowledge in safe systems works – their ability to manage or identify hazards, their experience on high-voltage networks and their use of safety equipment.”

The outcome forms a gap analysis – where they are and where they need to be.

“From that we can then select training from PATH to fill the gaps,” said Mark.

Once complete, ONRG performs another evaluation to prove the training has helped them reach their goals.

Eastern Daily Press: ONRG’s PATH system upskills workers in the energy sector with essential safety knowledgeONRG’s PATH system upskills workers in the energy sector with essential safety knowledge (Image: ONRG)

The training model is being used to upskill teams at home and abroad – even as far afield as Taiwan, where a new wind farm project commissioned ONRG to upskill workers to European safety standards.

“They wanted to utilise a local workforce, but their engineers and technicians were not familiar with the European standards that were going to be implemented on the wind farm construction project,” Mark said.

ONRG produced a bespoke six-week remote training programme conducted via Microsoft Teams, featuring classroom-based learning, online quizzes and simulators, followed up by an in-person visit and ongoing support after authorisation from its 24/7 control centre team.

“We get their lead SAP to this high standard, then that information can now filter down into their team – the other APs, SAPs and control engineers working under him,” Mark said. “That knowledge and technical mastery is being shared and we leave that legacy with them.”

After successfully delivering the training package, the Taiwanese project was so impressed that it decided to engage ONRG as part of the construction and energisation team on the wind farm. Its SAPs and control engineers are on rotation to manage the high-voltage network’s construction and operations.

Eastern Daily Press: ONRG operations director Chris EmminsONRG operations director Chris Emmins (Image: ONRG)

Operations director Chris Emmins said: “I’m excited that the technical mastery we have shared via our PATH process is being recognised – so much so that our expertise is now being deployed into operations, with our personnel engaged to deliver the Changfang and Xidao 589 MW offshore wind farm project in Taiwan.”

Next-generation training

This legacy also involves upskilling the next generation of offshore workers.

“There are plenty of young people coming out of college thinking of getting into the energy sector,” Mark said. “We can put them on the PATH process and give them that basic electrical knowledge, skill and understanding of wind farms.”

Hopefully, this next generation will meet the growing workforce demands in the energy sector, which is currently in danger of not having enough skilled people.

“As wind farms get bigger, the skill pool isn’t growing at the same exponential rate,” Mark said. “Someone has got to look after a wind farm for its lifespan, which is 25 years plus. It’s essential for us as an industry that we upskill. If we don’t, we’re going to have these huge gaps in the industry.”

The team at ONRG is motivated to provide further training in areas such as bespoke electrical courses focused on turbines or testing and fault finding on offshore cables.

“There are not enough people who can respond to faults on high-voltage networks and turbines. Training up more people in the future would help the industry to get systems back up and running quicker,” said Mark.

“The ultimate goal is to have our own training centre offering classroom and practical training facilities – something we could build as the company grows.”

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