Brian Clayton To be completed
Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Clayton. (DSc Mechanical Engineering 1995)
Professor Brian Clayton working at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia.
September 2000, the University of Nottingham opened the first genuine branch campus of a United Kingdom (UK) university in Malaysia. The initiative can also claim to be one of the very few international branch campuses of any UK university anywhere in the world. (See the main briefing note for an initial list of known international branch campuses). One might characterise the phenomenon of international branch campuses as an extension of franchising arrangements, offering enhanced corporate presence, tighter quality control and reduced dependence on local partners for delivery. Yet the University of Nottingham has no history of franchising.9 This concise case study explores the development of University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNiM), current position and future plans.
The Observatory spoke to Professor Brian Clayton, CEO and Vice-President of UNiM.
University research helps the winds of change to blow in Britain PA32/96 — March 15 1996 ‘Cold and windy’ — a typical complaint about the great British weather, but did you know that Britain lies at the centre of one of the world’s four principal wind traps? According to Professor Brian Clayton, head of the University of Nottingham’s Mechanical Engineering Department and a founder member of the British Wind Energy Association, Britain’s geographical position is rather special when it comes to the potential for wind energy utilization. Not only do we receive blustery south-westerly winds from the Caribbean, but these are met by the cold north-easterly polar winds coming in the opposite direction — the result is instability, turbulence, low pressure and high, consistent wind speeds. Professor Clayton has been interested in the harnessing of wind energy for more than 20 years — he was recently given a prestigious award by the BWEA recognising his contribution to the development of wind energy utilisation techniques. His work involves studying the aerodynamics of wind turbines and developing methods of testing their durability and effectiveness, without dismantling or disrupting the equipment — the latter involving thermal imaging, ultra-sonics and acoustic emission testing techniques. Modern UK interest in wind energy began shortly after the 1973/74 Middle East oil crisis, which highlighted the vulnerability of industrial nations dependent upon oil imports. More recently, renewable energy issues were highlighted with the implementation of the Government’s Non Fossil Fuel Obligation of 1990. Electricity companies are now obliged to supply currently 10 per cent of their electricity from sources other than oil, gas or coal. Professor Clayton said that supplies of North Sea gas may well run out within the next 25–30 years, oil sources will be depleted in the next 40–50 years, while there are about 300 years' worth of coal. "We have got to start looking to the future and to other sources of energy," he said. "We need energy sources that will not give out harmful emissions which will deplete the ozone layer or cause serious risks to health. Because of Britain’s special geographical location, there is a lot of potential for wind energy utilization." Areas experiencing the highest winds are Scotland, the western coast of Wales, Cornwall and the western coast of Ireland where wind speeds reach at least 20 miles per hour on average. "You would not associate somewhere inland, like Nottingham, with high wind speeds — the average speed here is about 10 miles per hour," he said. "Though Nottingham is not a likely candidate for wind farms, wind energy affects the region. East Midlands Electricity Board invests in a wind farm in Wales, which feeds energy into the National Grid." There are currently just under 30 wind farms in Britain generating about 0.13 per cent of the country’s electricity supplies, but proposals for new sites have been submitted under the NFFO incentives. Professor Clayton said that wind energy offers an enormous resource, easily sufficient to supply 10 per cent of the country’s current electricity use. Wind turbines produce no pollution or noxious emissions and the ‘fuel’ is free. In practice, almost 80 per cent of the maximum amount of energy can be extracted from oncoming wind. Professor Clayton said that one misconception about wind farms is that there would be rows and rows of wind turbines — in reality turbines are between 150 and 200 metres apart and most UK wind farms have fewer than 20 individual wind turbines. A major benefit of a wind farm is that only one per cent of the area of the farm will be taken out of use — land can still be used for grazing cattle or animals or growing crops. "There is a price to pay for everything and the price in terms of wind energy is visual impairment, but the whole idea is that land will not be dominated by wind turbines," he said. "Virtual reality is now being used so that the panoramic view can be considered on sites proposed for wind farms. This can be used to determine where turbines should be placed in relation to settlements and whether tree screening can be used. "People see photographs of rows and rows of wind turbines and quite rightly think ‘we don’t want that’ — but the fact is they would never have that. Land attributes are always taken into account — some sites in the desert areas of the USA do have many rows of turbines, but there is no-one around to see them and there are no such areas in the UK!" ─ Ends ─ NOTE TO EDITORS: For further information contact Professor Brian Clayton in the University of Nottingham’s Mechanical Engineering Department on 0115 951 3777 or Kathryn Ellison in Public Affairs on 0115 951 5793.