Celebrating first Point and Sandwick Trust- sponsored Masters degree from Outer Hebrides UHI

Pictured from left are, Dr Chris Macleod, Outer Hebrides UHI; Giuseppe Petricca and Andrew Mackenzie, Outer Hebrides UHI and PST outside the Innovation Centre, Outer Hebrides UHI. Photograph: SandiePhotos. NO F20 Masters
Pictured from left are, Dr Chris Macleod, Outer Hebrides UHI; Giuseppe Petricca and Andrew Mackenzie, Outer Hebrides UHI and PST outside the Innovation Centre, Outer Hebrides UHI. Photograph: SandiePhotos. NO F20 Masters

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Giuseppe Petricca has become the first student to receive a Masters of Research from Outer Hebrides, UHI, sponsored through the award by local wind farm charity group, Point and Sandwick Trust (PST).

Following graduation with a degree in Mechanical and Energy Engineering from Lews Castle College in 2018, Giuseppe’s thesis caught the eye of his tutors and the research project was presented to the PST Board for consideration.

Focusing on the application of smart grids and potential improvements to micromanagement of energy production from renewable sources in the Point area, the topic was of significant interest.

His detailed studies looked at how the practical application of hybrid renewable energy production solutions with a combination of solar, wind, and battery storage could help tackle fuel poverty and increased fossil fuel consumption in the Outer Hebrides.

Given the high levels of fuel poverty experienced on the Western Isles, and in line with the founding aims of Point and Sandwick Trust to support community wellbeing and a strong environmental focus, the research project was approved by the PST Board in 2020.

Dr Chris Macleod of the Outer Hebrides UHI Innovation Centre added: ‘Following Point and Sandwick Trust’s support for the opening of the Innovation Centre here at the University, myself and colleagues were keen to explore other ways we could collaborate with the trust. Giuseppe’s ideas and research project fit exactly that purpose and I am delighted to see him complete his studies today.

‘The Innovation Centre has evolved from its original aims into an all-purpose centre for high-technology and entrepreneurship which supports all types of activity in the area, including research and project work, Giuseppe’s Masters degree adds another string to our bow.’

Giuseppe commented: ‘I can easily say that my experience at UHI and here on the island, after I moved from Italy in 2016, would have been entirely different without the support of PST and UHI itself.

‘With the support of these two organisations, I was able to conduct research into a topic which has relevance not only here on the Western Isles but for the wider world in these challenges times.

‘My thesis concluded that if this renewable technology is paired with a good household survey and insulation policy, it can make a real difference in balancing what is produced with what we need, providing a great instrument to fight fuel poverty and fossil fuel dependency.

‘Proper insulation is critical to increase our capabilities of keeping our households warm with a stable electricity supply from renewable energy sources.’

Giuseppe hopes that this research will form the basis for more work in the future and is looking forward to continuing his studies towards a PhD and in a career in
the renewable energy sector.

He concluded: ‘I was honestly impressed by all the work PST does for the communities and organisations in the Outer Hebrides and that everything is connected to the development of the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK.

‘It is proof that the benefits of renewable energy are not limited to simple energy security but extend to so much more.’