Nikki Pillinger

Working with renewables

Electricity generation from renewable sources has grown 230% in the last decade and now accounts for 30% of electricity produced in the UK. This makes renewable energy an exciting sector to work in for many Exeter graduates.

Alumna Nikki Pillinger (BA Geography, 2013 and MSc Energy Policy, 2014) is Grid Connections Manager at British Solar Renewables (BSR), a leading renewable energy developer with over 530 MW of ground-mounted solar PV parks, including the four largest sites in the UK. In this role she is responsible for finding suitable areas of network for solar installations and managing the grid connections for these projects.

Nikki said: “I always wanted a productive and meaningful career, and my interest in the environment solidified during my undergraduate study. I was inspired by research into climate change, community energy and low carbon technology.

“I visited the Penryn campus during my course and loved it. I then chose modules that helped facilitate my masters. In the long run it turned out to be ideal having done a more general undergraduate subject and then a much more specialised postgraduate course.

“I was lucky that I got an EU grant for studying at Penryn and then my aunt was able to help pay my fees – PG loans were not an option at that time. Postgraduate study can be prohibitive for many people, so Masters Scholarships, such as those often now provided by alumni, are incredibly important.”

“After I left Exeter I worked in energy management consulting for two years and then joined BSR. As well as working with grid connections, I also handle our energy management and carbon saving strategies, as well as external engagement with Distribution Network Operators and National Grid.” said Nikki.

“I love my job. I learn every single day, I get to work with incredibly talented people and I know that what I do makes a difference. I also volunteer with a community energy group and lecture part-time at the Centre for Alternative Technology. It is more of a lifestyle choice than a job.

“My tips for those looking to work in the industry are: get to know people in the energy sector, go to networks, join community groups, and learn from others – there are lots of talented people out there who love to share knowledge and encourage the next generation. Also, keep up with news in the industry - find something you care about and focus on it.”

Nikki recently returned to campus to speak to students about careers in the renewable sector. If you can share insights from your industry with current students and would be interested in supporting an event, please register your details here.

Date: 14 March 2019

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