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Stuart O'Brien

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED): Q&A with the team at Williams Advanced Engineering

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With women currently making up less than 10% of the engineering sector in the UK, International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), taking place on June 23rd, provides an opportunity to raise the profile of female engineers, demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inspiring future generations.

We celebrate INWED by speaking to the team of female engineers from the Advanced Battery Team at Williams Advanced Engineering – Dr. Nasrin Shahed Khah (Senior Battery Systems Engineer), Melissa He (Battery Systems Engineer) and Rachel Lear (Battery Systems Engineer) – to learn more about what they do and what inspired them to pursue a career in engineering…

  • Give us an insight into what you do at WAE? 

NS: I’m a Senior Engineer in the Advanced Programmes team. Our team develops WAE’s battery capability, which includes everything from cell selection to testing and optimisation; ensuring we’re meeting the client’s requirements with our battery systems. 

MH: I currently work for WAE as a Battery Systems Engineer in the Advanced Battery Concepts group where our role is to expand the limits of battery technology through the development of smarter battery architectures and control systems. 

RL: I’ve been at WAE for approximately a month now, working as a Battery Systems Engineer. I spend a lot of my time focusing on different aspects of battery development activities; but primarily with cell testing requirements. 

  • What made you choose WAE as the next step in your career? 

NS: My background is Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College. I had always held aspirations to become a Mechanical Engineer whilst growing up as I was good at physics and maths. My third-year project at Imperial College was based on fuel cells and that introduced me to battery technologies. At the time, in 2012, people were only just beginning to talk about electric vehicles with the introduction of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla vehicles. However, I found the challenges presented by electrification fascinating and enjoyed using new technologies to drive change.  When it came to seeking employment, WAE was top of my list due to the advanced projects that the company were involved with. I wanted to be a part of a team at the forefront of battery technology within an exciting and knowledgeable group.

RL: I have previous experience in electrochemistry and cell development from my Chemistry degree at the University of Southampton as well as in my previous role. Moving to WAE as the next step in my career allowed me to stay in battery development; a sector I find very exciting and relevant, and at the same time broaden my knowledge and skills of this industry by working more closely with commercial projects. 

MH: There were a few things that got me into the company but mostly, it was my desire to work on progressive and cutting-edge projects, especially in motorsport. Before coming to the UK, I remember going on the WAE website and seeing the Gen1 Formula E battery and thinking, maybe I could get a job working for WAE. I feel fortunate to be in a position now where I’m now working in a company where I can combine my background in chemistry with  mechanical  and motorsport engineering.

  • Prior to your career in engineering, as a female, what was your perception of the industry compared to what it is now? 

RL: I come from a scientific background and during my degree there was a relatively good ratio of male-to-female students. I had female friends who were engineers, but most were in a minority on their courses which is why engineering is probably still perceived as a very male dominated career choice. Despite the headline statistics, I would say, don’t let that put you off pursuing engineering as a career.  I work in a team where we have a 50/50 split of male-to-female, which is great and regardless of gender, the important thing is the way in which you work together to deliver successful projects. If you have the required skills, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be applying for any job. Personally, I’ve always been welcomed into teams and whilst women might be a minority now, as more of us study engineering, so more women will become engineers!

  • Do you feel you’re a role model for the next generation? 

NS: I hope so! All the members within our team are very driven and passionate about what we do and more importantly, love our jobs. When I joined in February 2019, I was the first female within the team, and my manager supported me, grew my confidence and helped me achieve my goals and progress within the team. I hope I can do the same for the next generation of engineers, whatever their gender!

  • What advice would you give to any prospective female students looking to enter the industry or a similar role to you at WAE? 

RL: I would say don’t worry if you don’t have a fixed career in mind. Be guided by the things you enjoy and by doing so, you’ll find it will lead you to the right career path. Electrification is a hot topic at the moment so there are lots of opportunities for careers in battery development.

NS: I think what got me here was determination and knowing what I wanted to achieve. Determination is key to being successful and achieving your goals. But I agree with Rachel, the most important thing is finding what you love, the thing you enjoy doing. Follow your passion, chase your dreams and it will happen. Never be afraid to ask questions. If you want to be an engineer, I’d say do it – all of our team love what we do.

  • What’s the most exciting part of your job? 

RL: Being at the cutting edge and forefront of so many new and emerging technologies. You get exposure to new ideas and solutions before anyone else and in doing so, get a vision for what the future might hold. 

MH: I absolutely love problem solving and putting ideas into action. For example, if I have an idea, the business encourages me to discuss it and there’s never any judgement. Within the Battery Concepts Group, the philosophy is, let’s try it and see what happens!

  • What’s a typical day in your job? 

NS: Every day is different which I love. I could be doing anything from cell selection at early stages of battery programmes to overseeing module and battery pack activities from concept design to production refinement. I also support the safety elements of our current and upcoming battery projects at WAE. I really enjoy the variety of the work, whether I’m at my desk managing project delivery, or in the battery build facility overseeing practical work.

MH: My typical day is not really typical! Within such a small team, we cover a wide range of work and that’s one of the things that drew me to WAE; working on a number of  different projects – from e-bikes and racing scooters to race cars and mining trucks!

  • What was your inspiration for going into the industry in the first place? 

RL: The battery industry has had a lot of media attention recently, so I think this made batteries an interesting area for me to explore. While I largely “fell” into the battery industry, the excitement of new electric vehicles and technologies makes me want to stay.

MH: For me, it was the technology.  During my undergraduate studies , I participated in a competition to hybridise a Camaro and was hooked. Following experience in the automotive industry with electric vehicles and leading the work on an electric Formula Student car, I knew there were so many interesting problems left to solve. 

NS: I have always grown up with a passion for cars and problem solving and so I wanted a career where I could  combine  both. I believe we’re now at the cusp of a technology revolution with engineering at the forefront, which has allowed me follow my dream and do what I love.

Europe’s wind power leaders revealed

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Poland has increased the percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines the most, with an increase of nearly 250,000% since 2000, according to data released by the EU and analysed by SaveOnEnergy.

In 2001, the European Union introduced the EC Directive 2001/77/EC, which promoted the production of electricity through renewable energy means. One such production method promoted by the EU was wind turbines.

Recently, the EU released the figures from their most recent data collection for how much electricity is produced by countries within their member states. This inspired energy experts at SaveOnEnergy.com/uk to investigate which countries have increased electricity production by renewable means by the greatest amount.

By comparing the percentage of electricity generated in each country by wind turbines in the year 2000, to  the latest data released April 2021, SaveOnEnergy.com/uk can reveal which countries have increased the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines the most

The Countries With The Biggest Increase In Wind Turbine Generated Electricity

In first place is Poland. In 2000, only 0.003% of all electricity produced in Poland was by wind turbines. The latest data set shows that the percentage in Poland has risen to 7.5%, meaning electricity produced by wind turbines in Poland has increased by 249,900% since 2000.

Second is Czechia, with an increase of generated electricity via wind turbines of 69,900%. Only 0.001% of all electricity produced in the Czech Republic was by wind turbines in the year 2000, but the most recent data set shows the percentage has increased by 0.7%.

Placing third is France. France has increased electricity generated by wind turbines by 54,344.44% since 2000, with wind turbine produced electricity rising from 0.009% to 4.9% of all electricity produced.

4. Belgium – +49,400%

5. Ukraine – +23,233.33%

6. Turkey – +21,566.67%

7. Norway – +12,900%

Rounding off the top 10, in eighth place, is Austria. In the year 2000, the percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines was 0.1%. By 2018, this number had risen to 8.8%. This has resulted in an increase of 8,700%.

Ranking ninth is the United Kingdom. Only 0.2% of all electricity generated in 2000 was through wind turbines, but by the latest data collection, it is now over 17%. The UK has shown an increase of wind turbine produced electricity of 8,450%.

Finally, in 10th place, is Finland. The percentage of all electricity generated that was produced by wind turbines rose from 0.1% to 8.3%, leading to an overall percentage increase of 8,200%.

The Rest

11. Portugal – +5,175%

12. Sweden – +3,300%

13. Italy – +2,950%

14. Ireland – +2,670%

15. Latvia – +1,700%

16. Greece – +1,375%

17. Germany – +968.75%

18. Netherlands – +922.22%

19. Spain – +780.59%

20. Luxembourg – +452.38%

21. Denmark – +287.29%

Energy Management Summit – Meet with the industry again this October

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The Energy Management Summit, taking place on the 4th & 5th October, will give the chance to meet with the industry once again – Register your delegate place today!

Your free pass includes;

– A bespoke 1-2-1 itinerary of relaxed meetings with innovative solutions providers
– Complimentary overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments throughout
– Access to seminar sessions surrounding the energy management industry
– Networking with other professionals who share your challenges

Join us in person at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted or if preferred, you can attend via our virtual platform.

Secure your guest pass here or get in touch via the details below if you have any questions.

Do you specialise in Energy Data Collection & Management? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Energy Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in July we’ll be focussing on Data Collection & Management.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help energy management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Data Collection & Management solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.

Our features list in full:

Jul – Data Collection & Management
Aug- Waste Management
Sep – Solar PV
Oct – Lighting
Nov – Heating & Ventilation
Dec – Onsite Renewables

UKAEA CEO mentors young influencers on low carbon energy ahead of G7

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UKAEA CEO Professor Ian Chapman has mentored young influencers from across the globe at a forerunner event to the G7 summit, being held in the UK later this week.

The Youth 7 (Y7) is the official youth engagement group for the G7 – the annual gathering of leaders from the seven most advanced economies in the world.

Each year, ahead of the Leaders’ Summit, young people from each of the G7 states propose policy recommendations on behalf of their peers. It represents an opportunity to have their voices heard at the highest level of international decision making.

The theme for the Y7 2021 – held virtually in May by the Future Leaders Network – was “Making Waves for Future Generations”.

Professor Chapman worked with the Climate and the Environment Delegates on their proposals. The Y7 group put forward nine recommendations to world leaders to ensure societies and ecosystems thrive together. These included strengthening global early warning systems, increasing funding for green, climate-resilient research, and ensuring renewables make up over 75% of the electricity mix by 2030.

Professor Chapman said: “To find answers to the climate crisis, we need young people with the passion, ideas and energy to drive them. I have been so impressed by the Y7 group and the solutions they have come up with.

“As someone involved in developing low-carbon energy through fusion, their recommendations really resonated with me – and I’m sure they will have an impact on the G7 during the UK’s presidency and beyond.”

This year’s G7 Summit will take place from June 11-13 in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

No more public contracts unless suppliers have Net Zero plan, says government

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New measures unveiled by the UK government will require businesses to commit to net zero by 2050 and publish clear and credible carbon reduction plans before they can bid for major public contracts.

The rules will support the government’s plan to build back greener by ensuring that potential government suppliers publish plans to reduce carbon emissions across their operations in order to bid for major government contracts.

The measures (announced on World Environment Day) make the UK government the first in the world to put this requirement in place, which it says underlines the UK’s leadership in tackling climate change.

Under the new measures, by September, prospective suppliers bidding for contracts above £5million a year will need to have committed to the government’s target of net zero by 2050 and have published a carbon reduction plan. Firms which fail to do so will be excluded from bidding for the contract.

A carbon reduction plan sets out where an organisation’s emissions come from and the environmental management measures that they have in place. Some large companies already self-report parts of their carbon emissions, known as Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect owned) emissions.

The new rules will go further, requiring the reporting of some Scope 3 emissions, including business travel, employee commuting, transportation, distribution and waste. Scope 3 emissions represent a significant proportion of an organisation’s carbon footprint.

The new rules drive forward the government’s green agenda, while also striking a balance to not overly burden and potentially exclude small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from bidding for government work.

The approach is similar to the successful prompt payment measure introduced in 2019, which allowed a supplier’s performance in paying their subcontractors promptly to be taken into account when bidding for government work. As a result of this measure, we have seen improvements in payment performance across the UK economy.

All companies bidding for major government contracts will need to comply with the measure, not just those who are successful in winning contracts. This further widens the impact of the measure, as more and more suppliers commit to achieving Net Zero. The measures will apply to all central government departments and arms length bodies.

Minister for Efficiency and Transformation, Lord Agnew, said: “The government spends more than £290 billion on procurement every year, so it’s important we use this purchasing power to help transform our economy to net-zero. Requiring companies to report and commit to reducing their carbon emissions before bidding for public work is a key part of our world leading approach. These measures will help green our economy, while not overly burdening businesses, particularly SMEs.”

Tom Thackray, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, at the CBI said: “As the world looks towards the UK and COP26 for leadership on decarbonisation, business is already playing a vital role in driving progress towards a greener future. The CBI has long supported using procurement policy to ensure government spending supports the UK’s environmental objectives and these changes will encourage more firms across the country to demonstrate their own commitment to net zero when bidding for government contracts. Partnership between the public and private sectors can make the UK a global role-model, not only in delivering vital public services but working together to tackle climate change.”

Alarm sounded on energy costs for business

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The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a substantial reduction in energy demand, but an industry veteran has warned that the tide is turning – where forward annual energy prices were averaging at 4.5p six months ago, the cost today has risen to 7p, a monumental increase of 45%. 

Corin Dalby, founder of philanthropic energy buying consultancy Box Power, has issued a stark warning to businesses across the UK about the surging wholesale energy prices they could be stuck with when October rolls around.

Figures have shown how the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, at the start of last year, caused a substantial reduction in energy demand as commercial activity was restricted for the majority of businesses and organisations. While some of this was offset by the increase in residential usage, this drop in demand meant prices plummeted.

However, since December, it seems the tables have turned. Where forward annual energy prices were averaging at 4.5p six months ago, the cost today has risen to 7p – an increase of 45%. Dalby puts this down to a successful vaccine roll-out leading to increased consumer confidence and believes that as long as this upward trajectory continues, prices of commodities like oil, LNG, electricity and carbon will just keep rising.

“The market is extremely volatile right now,” says Dalby, “No Summer to Autumn period is ever easy-going, with it often being the time that power stations choose to shut down for maintenance and hurricane season comes about, but this year has the added factor of European storage levels being well below normal.

“That’s why business figures need to put their procurement hats on now. By waiting until one month before their current energy contract is due to end, businesses will have no choice but to compare the marginal percentage difference between two or three providers’ rates there and then.

“Little to their knowledge, one of these providers could have been offering brilliant rates a mere few months earlier – so they’ve missed out on huge savings by simply not checking. It’s also possible that the effect of lots of businesses hunting around for deals at the same time results in demand-pull inflation – escalating prices even more.”

There are a number of reasons why businesses leave switching to the last minute, according to Dalby – either due to hope that things might improve, putting it off due to thinking of it as a hassle, or waiting for the ‘switching window’. But it is possible to switch and lock in deals as early as 24 months ahead of a contract’s end date. In fact, this could have huge benefits.

“Last April, on the day when oil stock price dropped to -$20, we advised one of our clients to take advantage of the cost and lock the deal in – even though their current contract isn’t up for renewal until October this year. Now, they’re all set to reap the benefits, no matter what happens in the market.”

Dalby sums up by emphasising how: “Planning and timing is everything– especially for those looking to avoid getting trapped in a position where they are expected to pay over the odds, with potentially disastrous consequences for their day-to-day business longevity.”

Power your projects at the Energy Management Summit

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If you’re looking for energy partners to fuel your upcoming projects, look no further than the Energy Management Summit, taking place on the 4th & 5th October.

Your free pass includes;

– A bespoke 1-2-1 itinerary of relaxed meetings with innovative solutions providers
– Complimentary overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments throughout
– Access to seminar sessions surrounding the energy management industry
– Networking with other professionals who share your challenges

Join us in person at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted or if preferred, you can attend via our virtual platform.

Secure your guest pass here or get in touch via the details below if you have any questions.

Oxford-led greenhouse gas removal initiative receives £30m

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Research teams across the UK, coordinated by University of Oxford experts, have been chosen to probe innovative ways of removing greenhouse gases to help to stabilise the climate. 

Encompassing a dozen universities and with funding for nearly five years, this is the UK Government’s largest-ever research programme to understand and scale-up greenhouse gas removal (GGR) techniques. The programme consists of five GGR demonstration projects around the country and a Directorate Hub. The work commences this month. 

The Oxford-led consortium – named CO2RE – has been chosen as the Directorate Hub to coordinate the national programme. The CO2RE Hub will have a strong research function and will also liaise with the demonstrators, business, policymakers and publics to evaluate a variety of approaches to removal. 

Unlike techniques to reduce emissions at source, GGR aims to capture and remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases already in the air. Achieving net zero requires dramatic reductions in emissions, but it also requires GGR.

This year, the UK Government is hosting the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow and is expected to set out its plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The role of the CO2RE Hub will be critical in bringing together leading UK academics, building a GGR community and catalysing more ambitious climate action. 

Leading the multi-disciplinary Oxford Hub will be Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He said: “Greenhouse gas removal is essential to achieve net zero carbon emissions and stabilise the climate. Alongside the need for much faster emissions reductions now, we also need to start pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. 

“Greenhouse gas removal is not only essential, it also has the potential to become big business. As we rebuild societies and economies following Covid-19, we have an opportunity to orient ourselves towards the green jobs and industries of the future. I’m delighted that UKRI is supporting such a strategic programme.”

Professor Patrick Grant, Oxford’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research added: “The CO2RE Hub enables researchers across social and physical sciences to co-ordinate the vitally important GGR Programme for UKRI and BEIS. 

“Working with the five Demonstrator technologies, and our partner universities at Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London (UCL, Imperial College), and Manchester, the consortium will conduct the solutions-led research required to develop and evaluate a balanced portfolio of economically, socially and environmentally scalable GGR options.  

“Crucially CO2RE will provide policy design options and business models to ensure GGR technologies are developed within a viable economic and political landscape. This investment, in conjunction with the Oxford Net Zero Initiative and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, means a comprehensive approach to informed climate action, and we look forward to working with international partners, JPI Climate and COP26 this year.”

Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero, Dr Steve Smith added: “This is a really exciting and important time to build a research hub for GGR. Ahead of COP26 we are seeing a wave of commitments to net zero emissions from governments, cities and companies, and also a raft of approaches to carbon removal starting up. 

“Here in the UK, the Climate Change Committee predicts that reaching net zero by 2050 will require us to double the rate of carbon removal by natural landscapes, and to scale up industrial removals to the size of current emissions from electricity. Many questions of science, engineering, economics, governance and public engagement are still to be answered. We intend to tackle these, bringing people together from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, so that GGR contributes to ambitious, effective and sustainable climate action.”

Part of Oxford’s multi—disciplinary brief is to examine the legal, ethical and governance challenges of GGR. The Hub will:

1) Co-ordinate across the Programme 

2) Connect to other relevant research programmes nationally & internationally

3) Conduct cross-cutting research relating to GGR

4) Commission of small grants through a flexible fund

CO2RE will provide flexible funding to help participants in the Greenhouse Gas Removal programme bridge gaps in research and engagement activities.

Tyrrells Crisps set to reduce carbon emissions by over 14% with switch to LNG

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One of the UK’s largest crisp manufacturers, Tyrrells, has taken its latest step in a continued sustainability drive by converting its energy supply to liquefied natural gas (LNG), which it says will reduce its carbon emissions by over 14% per year.

Based at their factory in Herefordshire and part of the KP Snacks family, Tyrrells produces over 86 million bags of crisps every year. With high energy demands to consider, the company says it wanted to find a way of increasing efficiencies in order to lower its carbon footprint. 

Additionally, a solution was needed to reduce the number of weekly fuel deliveries in order to improve site safety, which was proving challenging with onsite vehicle movements. 

Flogas were approached by Tyrrells to help resolve their energy and site challenges and deliver a turnkey energy solution.

Eileen Wilkes, Head of Manufacturing from Tyrrells, said: “As a company, we’re constantly evaluating the way we work to introduce new sustainability measures. By working with Flogas and switching to LNG, we will be reducing our carbon emissions by over 14% and cutting our production costs in the process, thanks to the cleaner burning nature of natural gas.

“From a site safety perspective, one of the main issues we faced with the previous layout of the site was that we were limited in terms of our storage space. This meant that as our business grew, several deliveries of fuel were needed each week to meet energy demands, which in turn presented potential risks with additional vehicle movements around a busy factory. 

“Working alongside Flogas, enabled us to identify an area on site, then design, plan and construct a purpose-built gasification plant. Working with their planning partners and the site team, Flogas took care of all of the specific planning requirements, so we didn’t need to worry about them. 

“As the LNG is now self-contained and located to the side of the main factory, delivery trucks will no longer need to interact with site movements, which will minimise the risk to staff . 

“This solution will also allow us to reduce site deliveries by 40%, resulting in less transport emissions and less disruption to local residents.”

By choosing Flogas LNG, Tyrrells can also benefit from working with a supplier that’s committed to offsetting all its level 1 and level 2 CO2 emissions. Outlined in its 2040 Vision, Flogas launched a long-term strategy to reduce its own environmental impact year-on-year and supply customers with 100% renewable energy by 2040. LNG will also help Tyrrells to meet on-going government energy legislation, which encourages businesses to use lower carbon, cleaner burning off-grid fuels.

Mark Rutherford, from Flogas, said: “From the initial planning stages in 2019 through to the sites final completion we’ve been able to embed ourselves entirely within the Tyrrells business. This has allowed the project team to gain a deep understanding of the site energy needs and deliver a solution that’s improved the business across the board.

“This project is a great example of how LNG can be of huge benefit to a large-scale energy users, whilst improving the safety of workers on site.”