Calum Watkins recently joined SGS in June 2020 as a Graduate Smart Grid Engineer. He is currently completing a 2-year rotation of teams and splits his time between the Integration and Consulting & Analysis Practices. His main focus is on the delivery of fleets of smart local energy assets across a variety of customers in the UK. He has a Master’s in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, UK.
Tell us a little about your background?
I grew up in Edinburgh and came through to study at Strathclyde University in Glasgow in 2015, where I currently live and am married to my wife, Emma, who is also an Electrical Engineer. Whilst completing my academic studies I was fortunate to study and work abroad in Kenya as a researcher at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology and Kaharlyk, Ukraine as a process engineer at a plastic waste pyrolysis plant. These experiences drew my interests towards sustainable energy in various contexts aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. My passion is to deliver engineering solutions which give communities ‘access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.’ (SDG7)
In this vein, two of my academic projects were focused on developing community renewable energy on areas of urban wasteland close to deprived neighbourhoods here in Glasgow using a community ownership model. This is where I first encountered the term ‘Smart Grids’ and SGS was involved in several projects that I used as case studies in those early projects. You can check out the progress I’ve been a part of in developing community energy in Glasgow at: glasgowenergy.coop
What motivates you about your work with SGS?
As I mentioned, interest in Smart Grids and renewable energy made coming to SGS a natural progression from my studies and project focuses. We are committed to delivering sophisticated control systems for enabling connection and operation of a wide variety of renewable energy systems. No doubt this work is crucial to decarbonising the energy sector. The value of local energy supplying local demand is so tangibly efficient compared to transporting that energy over huge distances with considerable losses and costs and this is where smart local energy systems can play their part.
What do you like best about working at SGS?
The people I work with are great, lots of laughs and despite working almost entirely from home since I started, I’ve felt very much part of the team. The projects are very varied, and every day is literally a school day with opportunities to learn from the best people in the industry!
What has been your biggest achievement so far at SGS?
I’ve had a lot of cool experiences so far at SGS, from doing a weeklong site trip to a Local Authority Customer, to working on future energy scenarios for renewable developers and energy system operators. I’ve also been supporting colleagues to register as STEM ambassadors, and we hope to run workshops over the next year with some local schools especially around COP26.
What are your hopes for the clean energy sector in the coming months and years?
I hope that we’ll see a real shift in society moving to sustainable energy options. It’s cool seeing this happening in our projects but these are often still very much demonstrators and have yet to be realised at scale. When people start seeing the opportunity for smart local energy systems, we’ll be onto a winner.
Looking forward, what impact are you hoping SGS will have?
SGS is playing a leading role in establishing the decarbonised grids of the future and I hope that in our new position as a member of Mitsubishi Electric, we’ll be able to deliver more advanced clean energy projects beyond the UK and North America.