Dr Philippa Hardy on Emerging Renewable Energy Technologies

Undoubtedly, achieving our net-zero targets will require continued roll out of mature renewables such as wind and solar. But major change tends to foster innovation, and as deadlines near and the pace of change increases, the pressure grows to find new ways to generate our energy. It’s vital to harness this momentum and bring the most promising ideas to market.

Dr Philippa Hardy joins Locogen as Associate Director, Emerging Technologies to help us assess these advances. Here, she shares her journey into renewables and some thoughts on the market.

How did you get into renewables?

When my dreams of flying planes were dashed by my growing interest in climate change, I landed on renewables, courtesy of a bit of luck and organised chaos. After studying energy & environmental engineering, I was fascinated by solar PV and opted for a PhD to explore how to make it even better with nanotechnology.

During my research, I grew impatient with the slow pace of change in industry and instead chose to work in consultancy, helping organisations understand the energy transition better and to act more quickly. One of my very first consultancy projects was on demand side flexibility and from that moment I was hooked – it is the gel that brings everything together. 

What excites you about the industry?

I am excited by innovation in the energy industry and there is a lot of it! I am constantly finding out about new technologies, companies, business models and approaches, which are fundamentally upgrading the energy sector to be more renewable and low carbon.  

Tell us a little about your job – what do you see yourself doing at Locogen?

Initially I will be diving in the deep end and working with the consultancy team to deliver Locogen’s projects and finding out how Locogen can best add value to their clients. I will then be helping to develop Locogen’s consultancy business stream for projects leveraging innovative technology, including, energy storage, flexibility, hydrogen, local energy systems and more.

I hope I can bring a new perspective to Locogen’s clients and can help them understand new potential opportunities with emerging technologies for their existing or new renewable energy systems. 

How do you see your career evolving?

I aim to become a true expert in all things related to low carbon energy systems, bringing together the technical, environmental, economic and market knowledge across all available solutions, to provide truly holistic advice to clients.

Can you give us an example of how the industry needs to change to meet our net-zero goals?

The energy system at all scales needs to operate more flexibly to enable the high penetration of renewables that we are all working towards. This flexibility is, and will increasingly be, provided by a range of sources, including demand side flexibility, storage, V2G and many more. The flexibility sector is already a hive of activity with some companies operating for over a decade. I see it continuing to develop and grow, driven as much by industry push as by fundamental balancing needs. Currently, national TSO, localised DSO and pan-European flexibility markets are developing, not only in the UK, but across Europe and further afield and this development is really gaining momentum. 

Why did you choose to work at Locogen?

I think Locogen are well positioned in the market given they provide a full solution – consulting, developing, and operating renewable and low carbon energy systems. I was impressed by their portfolio, reach and experience, and I share their vision of reaching a 100% distributed renewable and low carbon powered world. 

As well as solar, wind, hydro and district heating, Locogen are now working on projects with hydrogen, storage, and local energy systems and are constantly looking to add new technologies to their expertise. It is an exciting time to join Locogen and I feel that I can have a tangible impact on the industry here. 

Away from the world of emerging energy technologies, how do you spend your spare time?

Much as I love my work, I look forward to my downtime as much as (maybe more than) the next person. My other passions are health, fitness and creativity and I am often found keenly running or hiking up a hill, in some sort of contorted position on a yoga mat, or quietly (which may seem surprising to some) crafting my next masterpiece.

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