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Purpose-built renewable training centre for Devon

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Bicton EaRTH (Environmental & Renewable Technologies Hub, will be opened on the 11 May by Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, secretary of state for education.

Bicton College in Devon, is officially launching its renewable skills training centre after only two years from conception to design and completion. Bicton College is historically a land-based college, and this move into the renewable energy sector demonstrates their awareness of the pressing need for sustainability in land-based industries.


Granted’s knowledge of the renewable energy sector and funding opportunities, combined with the college’s experience in training provision led to the idea of a green skills project. Granted’s core business has been to identify renewable energy projects, access funding and project manage them to completion. They contacted Bicton College in 2010 with a concept to create a renewable skills training centre intended to inspire, educate and enthuse the rapidly growing “green collar” workforce in the UK. Bicton EaRTH was designed to provide people with the skills needed to find and retain jobs in the green sector. It will deliver courses on solar thermal, PV, biomass heating, air source heat pumps and rainwater recycling, upskilling many existing installers, and introducing new entrants to the green sector.

In keeping with the tenets of the project, the building is heated by a combination of technologies, air source heat pump, solar thermal and a wood chip biomass boiler. The designers of the EaRTH building, Simon Glanville of TFQ architects and Jonathan Davis of Granted, made strenuous efforts to take these technologies out of their traditional settings and place them where guests and students at EaRTH would be able see and engage with them.

The South West is a resource rich area, which lends itself to solar, wind, and tidal technologies and this is rapidly becoming one of the growth sectors for the region. With a wide range of natural renewable energy assets, Devon is remarkably well placed to lead the way in the development of new technologies and create skilled employment in this rapidly growing sector.
“The future of buildings in the UK is no longer an “either or” scenario as far as renewables is concerned” says Jonathan Davis of Granted.  “Increasingly traditional UK trades are being challenged by the arrival of mature renewable technologies from Western Europe and around the globe and Britain needs to be ready to respond to the changes and training centres such as Bicton EaRTH are the answer.”

David Henley, the college principal, said: “we now have a world class facility that will engage our learners, the local community, the private sector and the wider educational community.” 

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