Reflections On a Year in Industry with Heat UK

After a year’s industrial placement with the team, Vattenfall Heat UK bids a fond farewell to Bristol University industrial placement students Lina Drozd and Hannah Spurgeon. Here, Hannah reflects on the last 12 months working with Vattenfall Heat UK.

Why Vattenfall Heat UK?

I have always been interested in the energy sector, and as an engineering student, domestic heating was of particular interest to me when looking into industrial placement opportunities. That interest stemmed from the innovation and change required in the UK domestic heating market to break the cycle of fossil fuel reliant heating infrastructure. With my ambition to participate in driving the UK towards becoming more environmentally conscious, working for Vattenfall Heat UK seemed an ideal opportunity. 

Thrown into the deep end

In my first few days, I found myself in the middle of a fast-paced process where I was producing schematics and pricing up infrastructure. I found myself asking copious amounts of questions. Despite researching heat networks prior to my placement I had definitely not grasped all the commercial, delivery and design decisions that we needed to make. There are huge complexities around implementing low-carbon heat network infrastructure that is commercially viable and operating as efficiently as possible to best serve our end customers.

I quickly realised the importance of commercial implications in making engineering decisions, and the task we had before us in shifting the market’s way of thinking about domestic heat away from the previous ‘norms’.

However daunting this was, one of the most crucial aspects that helped me deliver value was aided in being treated exactly like any other member of the team (with the obvious understanding that I had minimal knowledge and experience). This allowed me to feel like I could make suggestions and bring value to conversations and projects alike.

Inspiring moments

Conference in Amsterdam / Groningen

Being allowed the opportunity to attend a company conference in Amsterdam was a privilege I feel lucky to have had. The experience allowed me to meet people from all over the business and go on some spectacular site visits. Exploring the opportunities that Vattenfall are working on that weren’t necessarily within heat networks was fascinating and inspiring. I was able to see Vattenfall’s work from a higher-level perspective and comprehend how the ‘fossil-free within a generation’ goal is actually coming to fruition, working towards solving the de-carbonisation of infrastructure and power through technological innovation.

Zero carbon heat in the West of England

I had opportunities to attend many events, seminars and workshops over the course of my time at Vattenfall Heat UK. An example of which was a sponsored event in Bristol (a city which holds a special place in my heart as it is where I will be returning in October to complete my degree). I had the chance to help facilitate this event in partnership with Buro Happold and local society Zero West. Sitting at tables with people from across all sectors - from infrastructure lawyers to local councillors - and having conversations around the most effective routes to decarbonising the west of England was inspiring and eye-opening. Especially so when considering the range of players and investment which will have to come forward in order to enable a truly low carbon future.

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