Interview with Beanán O’Loughlin
Wind Analyst, Airtricity
Q. When did you first become interested in Meteorology?
A. While studying as an undergrad in physics and maths. With all the talk of climate change I was keen to try to apply my scientific background in the environmental sector. I was then looking around for a masters course and found the UCD Meteorology course appealing and my interest peaked from there.
Q. What is your job title and can you give us a synopsis of what your job entails?
A. I am a Wind Analyst. Primarily I am engaged with analysis of site wind data from meteorological masts. This involves high levels of data analysis and correlation to suitable long term wind references to produce a frequency distribution table that accurately describes the long term wind regime at the mast. This mast description is coupled with terrain/forestry mapping and turbine locations and from there, the wind flow is modelled across the site. After calculation of energy losses and various uncertainties, I produce energy estimates and capacity factors that predict the production of the wind farm over the next 20 years.
As well as gazing into the computer screen we are also expected to get out there and feel the wind on our faces - we oversee installation of the met masts which involves liaising with contractors and a few nice trips out to the countryside. We try to get an appreciation of the sites by actually being there and assessing forestry and slopes and other such considerations in the design of the wind farm. With whatever spare time is left we are engaged in numerous research projects such as estimating turbulence intensity, turbine suitability and internal analysis tool development. It’s a good place to be.
Q. Have you an opinion on Climate Change and the current challenges to Climate science?
A. I feel that the limiting global impact of excessive carbon levels is one of the greatest challenges we face. The effects of climate change are evident all over the world, be it desertification or extinction of eco-systems. World leaders must pull together and fulfil their promises of reducing carbon output and increase investment in renewable energy sources. Businesses must drive towards more sustainable practices, and individuals must try to do their bit to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’...easily said.
Q. What weather proverb would you stake your reputation on?
A. No weather's ill if the wind be still.
Q. What type of weather most interests you? e.g. rain, wind, thunderstorms
A. Have to say the wind really
Q. What is your favourite anecdote/joke about the weather?
A. I like one as Gaeilge in the Met Éireann building, the message is: ‘There is no storm so bad that the sun will not shine through in the end’ or, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. It sounds much more beautiful in the native tongue…and I cant remember it all now so I’m not going to embarrass myself by trying.
Q. What other interests do you have outside Meteorology?
A. Quite like a bit of sport: playing 5-a-side. I like taking photos too, and going to gigs.
Q. Who would you like to have at your dream dinner party?
A. Philippe Petit – I saw Man on Wire and he seems like he’d be good craic. Nigella Lawson – She’d put on a great spread. Leonard Cohen – Legend. Helen Mirren – She’s great. Banksy – I live in Bristol, he’s pretty iconic.