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SGS People: Earth Day 2021

Fifty-one years ago, the first Earth Day was celebrated. In 2021, we see more renewables than ever being added onto the grid and supportive policy in place in many key areas around the world. We look forward to the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) in our home city of Glasgow, knowing that there is still much to be done, but pleased that our energy management software is helping to provide the solutions for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

In honour of Earth Day, we asked some of the members of our team to share how they became interested in the environment.


Ben Kirley – SGS Project Manager

I first became aware of climate change issues whilst at school, through a video about the “greenhouse effect”. At that time, the scale of the challenge was less known, or at least not widespread.

The topic has appeared on the news with ever increasing frequency and concern since then. Thankfully, there is now broad agreement amongst politicians and business leaders that this is a critical issue. COP26 is a critical moment to address it on a global scale.

I enjoy being in the countryside and observing the natural world and wildlife around me. The impact of humans on other species and natural environments has already been colossal. We rely on the future climate of the planet, as it sustains us all.



Calum Watkins – Graduate Intern

My interest and passion for the environment grew through my engineering studies at the University of Strathclyde. Here, I had opportunities to work on projects seeking to address global climate issues as laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). From studying the impact of clean cooking technology in East Africa for alleviating health issues and poverty to exploring the opportunities for solar energy on brownfield sites here in Glasgow, I’ve seen the importance of working across sectors to improve our environment and the well-being of our communities. We all have a responsibility to care for our world and each other, to take small steps towards a fully sustainable future for the next generation.



Rachael Cornick – Project Manager

I grew up climbing trees and hiking through my local woods in upstate NY, and at a young age developed a love for nature.  After college, I worked as a performer in NYC for several years and while I still love to sing and perform, I was not fulfilled.   I realized I missed the beautiful green outdoors and pivoted to pursue a career that aligned with a greater passion: to protect and preserve our environment.  This led me back to school for an engineering degree, and it was during these studies that I learned of the existential risk posed by climate change.  Since then, I have made changes in my life, both large and small, to reduce my carbon footprint, and I have focused my professional work on renewables, DERMs and other sustainability initiatives to combat the effects of climate change.    



Graham Ault – Executive Director

I started my career in energy in the 1990’s and, after a few years building fossil power stations, moved into academic research to delve into the power system implications of Decentralized energy. As that research progressed and became increasingly multi-disciplinary, the need for Decarbonized and Democratized (people focused) energy became increasingly obvious and underpinned by science. It was clear that the energy system required new planning and operational solutions and my work over the last two decades has focused on those questions.

My work at Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) focuses on the Digital (the fourth D) solutions required for grid and market integration and optimization of clean energy. My hopes are that the world moves urgently to address the climate agenda and that SGS plays its role in enabling clean energy sources and smart energy solutions of all types to form an integrated, sustainable, and people-centric energy system. This is something I am passionate about and hope to continue to be a part of in this crucial climate decade.



Natasha Barbieri – Marketing Coordinator

Like Rachael, I grew up enjoying the outdoors and loving nature. Until joining Smarter Grid Solutions my background was in music but working here has been an eye-opening experience. It was inspiring to see my colleague’s passion and begin to better understand the important climate issues we face. It’s rewarding to be working with a company that is striving to make a difference and preserve this beautiful world for the next generations.



Chris Linn – Project Manager

I came to renewables quite by accident in the fall of 2007 when the economy collapsed as a consequence of mortgage industry practices, which some have called short-sighted. I was unaware of the renewable market and once I entered, I found myself transitioning from unaware to being an enthusiastic participant in supporting the transition from conventional energy to renewable energy. Globally, humanity is experiencing consequences resulting from conventional energy production and operations. As a resident of Sonoma County in California, I can attest that my county has caught on fire 4 of the past 5 years. This means that not only is conventional energy generation a global issue, but conventional operations by utilities is also very much a consequential local issue. On Earth Day 2021, I am both grateful to be working for a company that supports renewable energy, as well as concerned for the fire season of 2021 in one of the worst droughts on record. I am confident that as humanity comes together to solve global issues locally, we will find our collective resiliency in these difficult times.

We are grateful to have a team of such dedicated workers all combining knowledge and passion to address the energy crisis. If you would like to learn more about our efforts in the run up to COP26 please visit: