While studying Geology at Imperial College I had a great opportunity to take part in an engineering competition in which teams were required to find an innovative engineering solution to remove all greenhouse gas emissions from a typical gas fired power station. My team provided the winning solution with a method that utilised cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into a profitable final product. At the time we were convinced we didn’t have the ability to win, as we were up against some incredibly talented individuals but we thought we would enjoy the challenge anyway. Winning this competition allowed me to springboard straight into a career in the oil and gas industry. I would encourage anyone to take every opportunity available as without taking a chance myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I started my career working as a process engineer in the North Sea oil and gas industry, spending time in Aberdeen, on offshore platforms and in Norway, looking at how emissions reducing technology could be retro-fitted onto offshore gas turbines. Following this I took up the position of a reservoir geologist working on one of the world’s first carbon capture and sequestration projects in Algeria.
I was then offered a job in the UK nuclear industry, but the timing of the appointment enabled me to take up an interim post at Ofgem supporting the Regulation of the emerging UK renewables market. In my nuclear appointment I spent a year training to gain full understanding of nuclear fundamentals and conventional plant operations, as well as learning how electricity is balanced across the Network to ensure consumers have a secure and stable supply.
I took up a post of Efficiency Engineer at Torness power station, identifying improvements in cooling water systems and strategy for reactor trimming. It was in this role that the impact of Climate Change was really starting to become apparent, as the station was hit by several storm events which brought in a high influx of seaweed into the cooling water systems for the conventional steam turbine and I took on the challenge of identifying how this risk could be mitigated by improving prediction methods, response methods and by modifying the plant itself to enable it to cope.
After spending a rigorous 6 months on the reactor simulator learning how to respond to all possible hazards and faults, I was Duly Authorised under the Nuclear Installations Act to manage all reactor and 660MW turbo-generator operations at the station. This included the direction and supervision of all staff working on the unit at any time and ensuring all activities were carried out according to the statutory regulations, department plan and in compliance with agreed nuclear safety and agreed environmental limits and expectations.
I moved over to the Isle of Man in 2019 to be closer to my family and took up the post of Efficiency Engineer at Pulrose Power station. Later in the year, the Isle of Man government recognised the Climate Emergency and commissioned the IMPACT report. I joined the Climate Change Transformation Team in 2020 as the Energy Specialist on secondment from Manx Utilities, to help deliver the Isle of Man’s Future Energy Scenarios and Renewable Heating Scenarios strategies. I am now back at Manx Utilities full-time working on our decarbonisation strategy which will be critical for enabling the Island’s journey to net zero carbon.