Company/Organisation: ALSTOM Ocean Power
Industrial supervisor: Paul Vigars
Academic supervisors: Prof Alistair Borthwick (University of Edinburgh), Dr Helen Smith (University of Exeter), Dr Qing Xiao (University of Strathclyde)
Programme start: January 2012
Industrial Project start: September 2012
Since I was fourteen years old I have got a great interest in renewable energy and sustainability. I have to admit that I got my inspiration from an episode of the TV show “Sea Quest”, in which they developed a way to extract energy from the sea currents, indeed an interesting coincidence… Accordingly to my interests, I decided to study Industrial Engineering at the Technical University of Catalonia. This is a five years degree that covers different areas of engineering such as power generation, electronics, heat transfer, structure mechanics, fluid dynamics and business related topics as well. After a year working for a company carrying out energy audits I did an MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh, which helped me to get a good overview of renewable energy sources as well as being introduced to the community of offshore renewable energy.
What were you doing prior to this programme?
After I completed my MSc at the University of Edinburgh I went back to Barcelona and worked as a photovoltaic engineer, but not long after that circumstances changed and I ended up in Ha Noi (Viet Nam) working in the green building sector for the NGO Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC). Although I was enjoying my 30ish degrees, bowls of pho and outstanding ice coffees, I felt that my time in Vietnam was coming to an end and that I was ready to start a new stage in my life, a research stage.
What attracted you to studying with IDCORE?
Since I finished my Industrial Engineering studies I had been thinking about carrying out a PhD. One of the problems of a PhD is that sometimes your research ends up being too academic and not applicable in the real world. The fact that I could carry out the same level of research at a company was for me a guarantee that my research would eventually be applied to something real and that I would effectively see things change because of my work.
What attracted you to offshore renewables industry?/ What aspects of the industry do you find most inspiring, interesting or important for the future?
The offshore renewables industry, and especially tidal and wave, there are at their infancy stage. For someone who wants to carry out research, this is actually very appealing. Offshore renewables present a great potential that together with onshore renewables they could deliver a great fraction of our future energy needs and bring our society to a more sustainable path, or even to a truly sustainable path.
Main responsibilities and challenges as a Research Engineer
My work at ALSTOM Ocean Power aims to derive a guide to estimate the maximum extractable power from coastal areas of interest for tidal energy developments. This work will help ALSTOM’s engineers to identify interesting sites for tidal projects and help them in the process of optimisation of the technical parameters of projects.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Despite I lived in Norway for half a year and the UK for more than 3 years, I sometimes feel that one of my biggest achievements to date is that I came back in one piece from Viet Nam. I was lucky enough to not have any serious accident while riding my motorbike through the nonsense traffic of Ha Noi and Vietnamese roads (just do a quick search in youtube for videos of traffic in Viet Nam and you will understand what I’m talking about). I also managed to communicate and being understood in Vietnamese (English is rarely spoken in Viet Nam), though I was told each time that I spoke like a 3 years old child...
What ambition would you like to fulfil as a Research Engineer?
I would like to successfully generate a guide/tool that engineers from ALSTOM could use in the future to get a better idea of how they should design their tidal farms. At the same time, I would like to get a good industrial experience and get a better global understanding of the challenges that a tidal energy company has to face on their day by day activity.
Experience with IDCORE so far
Interesting, definitely different that a normal PhD.