Simone Lowthe-Thomas, one of the seven Jury Members for Roger Léron Award, unveils what are the essential attributes for a regional/local leader, alongside with her experiences about the field of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
Simone Lowthe-Thomas is Chief Executive Officer of Severn Wye Energy Agency (UK) and FEDARENE Vice-President for Energy Efficiency (Buildings & Behavior). With over 25 years’ experience working in the fields of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development, Simone has supported people, communities, organizations and the public sector to find sustainable solutions for energy use and community regeneration work. She is a founding member of Community Energy Wales and sits on Welsh Government Advisory Groups for Climate Change, Landscape Management, and Community & People.
With such extensive experience, we looked forward to meeting Simone in order to know more about her vision regarding the evolution of the energy field, and also her view on what is the road-map that local and regional leaders should follow in order to guarantee a sustainable future.
What are the major changes you have witnessed during your career in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency?
Awareness in this field has grown massively, as opposed to being an ‘alternative’ way of working both renewable energy and energy efficiency are now main-stream technologies and considered essential for our future. We have seen considerable advancements in these technologies and implementation models. The skills and experience within the industry have increased significantly with more widespread knowledge and expertise within the construction industry and installers. The management of these systems and costs have also significantly reduced.
The role of local energy agencies in this acceptance and increased experience has been vital. Regional agencies understand the local delivery context, resources, and challenges and have had an essential role in training, dissemination and the role out of pilot and delivery programs to embed energy efficiency and renewable energy models in each locality. The partnership is a key way of working for Regional energy agencies, with their local authorities but also within other sectors and sharing learning across the regions.
The Roger Léron Award aims to highlight the exceptional achievements of individuals. This year’s focus will be on creativity. How can actors working in the energy transition use creativity to overcome challenges and barriers?
I think Creativity is the essential approach to making National and Regional policy come alive in our Communities. Every region has different challenges and opportunities, it is up to find the best solutions to enable the energy transition and to make lasting input this requires both creativity and tenacity. The best creative solutions in my view involve people in their design and delivery, they create new collaborative partnerships but also use the learning from other regions to build new local solutions. It is not always about coming up with new ideas but about finding ways to make the best solutions, technologies, and ideas work within the resources you have.
Can you describe the role of energy efficiency in getting towards net-zero carbon emissions as well as the future potential you recognise in this area?
Most of my work has been with Communities and we always start with energy reduction, then low cost and no-cost solutions energy efficiency. These are often quick to implement because they are lower cost and do not require permissions, permits or infrastructure. They also yield results quickly showing a good return on investment and therefore building the confidence of the community to undertake larger energy efficiency or renewables projects. I believe this approach works well, enormous energy savings can be made through firstly, not using energy in the first place and secondly through reducing energy demand and waste through actions such as using lower energy appliances, using timers and energy controls more effectively and through user behavior – switching things off! In the UK, heating of buildings accounts for considerable energy demands but we still have many homes that are too cold resulting in illness and even death. In more difficult to treat homes, renewable energy solutions are not always an option and therefore energy efficiency is absolutely essential to help us meet our carbon emission targets.
As a Member of the Jury in the past editions of the Roger Léron Award. In what ways does the Award motivate actors in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to continue pushing the boundaries in this field?
In my view, the Roger Léron award is a wonderful way to celebrate and recognize the hard work and dedication of actors who have often devoted many years of their working lives to the energy transition. These actors have been inspired and motivated by wanting to make a positive difference in their region. But I think this award has an important role in showcasing these actors, to the younger generation and to a wider audience so that we may also be inspired by their achievements and seek to continue to push boundaries.
What is your advice for actors in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency to take advantage of this momentum?
I was working with a group of students this weekend who were really concerned about Climate Change but didn’t really know what difference they could make. I think that those of us who do work in this field have a responsibility to provide motivation, information, training and mentoring to our younger generations. To work in partnership, to help give our future generations a stronger and more informed voice, and to share our learning so that action taken is positive and productive.
It was a pleasure to get to know more in deep such a high personality in the sector!
If the characteristics mentioned by Simone, reminds you to someone working in Renewable Energies and Environment, you can nominate your candidate until the 31st of May, 2019.