THE numbers are beginning to add up for young mathematicians after they were given an insight into the impact the subject has on people’s lives around the world.

Year 10 and 11 students at Barnard Castle School were told how maths was being applied to improve life for people in developing countries and emerging markets including bringing them sustainable power supplies.

Lucy Heintz, a partner with private equity investment specialists Actis, told students: “There are so many different careers in finance outside of the traditional view of it being just men in glass boxes shouting at each other.

“Maths helps us size a host of sustainable development opportunities. For instance, we are investing in clean energy in countries that don’t have the same access to electricity that we do.”

She said maths was vital in calculating a country’s energy need, how much energy could be produced per dollar spent, how big a turbine or a wind farm should be and the costs of transporting the power to a market.

“It is very exciting as you are looking at a huge opportunity but you also have to consider how long it will take for your investors to enjoy their return on investment,” she said.

They also had to take into consideration socio-political factors, such as would there be any opposition to the wind farm, how many local jobs would it create, would the government be amenable and easy to work with.

An array of long term data would also be collected on the quality of the wind; was it uni-directional, constant, or sporadic and gusty.

All these factors and figures were then input to form a complex financial model to see if projects were viable and ensuring investors, many of which were people’s pension funds, received a healthy return.

Barnard Castle School’s head of maths Mark Robson said: “The talk highlighted the diverse and rich nature of careers around private equity, finance and banking and I hope it will spark in the students an interest in what they can do with their maths in the future.”