Sarah Allardyce, wind energy analyst at Mott Macdonald, offers insights into her role
How would you sum up what you do on a typical day?
I am a wind energy analyst and I lead Mott MacDonald’s energy yield team. We model wind farm projects to determine the energy they will produce. On a typical day this involves in-depth data processing and taking decisions as to how we can produce the most accurate assessments possible. I also review work carried out internally by my team and third party reports.
What would you say is the best bit about your day?
The best bit of my day is when we fully understand the values we are getting and can make sure they make sense given what we know about a site. It always feels good when you can stand confidently behind your work, especially when it comes to discussing it with clients.
And what is the biggest challenge?
Timeframes are a big challenge. The work we do is time sensitive and in high demand so schedules are always tight and many projects often happen on top of each other. Keeping track of which wind turbine model and which country you’re working on can sometimes be challenging!
What made you decide to become a wind energy analyst?
I visited a wind farm as part of my undergraduate degree and fell in love with the technology. I studied maths and physics originally and wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after graduating, so I decided to undertake a masters in renewable energy systems. The course was a great stepping stone into the industry as it gave me the chance to develop the skills and knowledge that are fundamental to working in the sector.
What is it that you love about your job?
I love the combination of maths and practical modelling. The numbers we produce influence major financial decisions. When I speak with our clients, they take the time to listen to what we have to say as they know what an important role we have.
What makes a great wind energy analyst?
The drive to get involved and do well. Finding a niche has worked in my favour, but I also think having an all-round view and a willingness to learn and take on new roles is important for graduates. Working as part of a team is key and finding a good mentor is what really makes a difference.
What advice do you have for people about to embark on a career in renewable energy engineering?
If you’re at the start of your career, take any opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone, such as by working on projects abroad. Even if the sector or area is initially unfamiliar to you, you will build on your knowledge and curate a wider range of experiences to draw from professionally and personally. Trying out new roles is a great way to find out where you will be happy and where you can see your career developing. Find a mentor who inspires you. Listen to and learn from colleagues in your team and the wider industry. Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities or to suggest new ideas.