Dr Simone Lowthe-Thomas

Simone .jpg

MSc, Conservation and Environmental Management, 1999

Chief Executive Officer

Severn Wye Energy Agency

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Since a child I loved nature, the way everything works together, the clever complexity of how our natural world works has always intrigued and inspired me. I wasn’t really aware that there was such a thing as an environmental career until I first went to University – I changed degree from Psychology to Ecology and Conservation when I discovered such a course existed! 

I now work more on sustainable development and renewable energy which were also not really careers when I was a student, I simply followed new career opportunities as they arose and was willing to learn as I worked. it is great that there are now courses and degrees in these fields.

I am Chief Executive Officer of Severn Wye Energy Agency. We are an independent and impartial charity working across Wales and the boarder counties in England on all aspects of sustainable development and sustainable energy. We have teams that work to combat fuel poverty and cold homes, reduce energy consumption, develop new energy technologies and ways to protect our environment and tackle climate change. We also work in partnership with communities to co-produce solutions that reduce inequality and improve quality of life, health and wellbeing through engaging with our natural resources and developing sustainable and local regeneration projects. 

We always have far more ideas and demands for our work than the time and money to deliver it all, much of our innovation, research and demonstration work has been funded through EU projects in the past and we face uncertainty about future funding for this type of work. With demands on public and private sector funds focussing on covid response and recovery there is a danger that funding for charities and sectors considered non-core may be significantly reduced at a time when local response and community support may be most need.

We employ staff with a wide range of skills, we have some highly technically qualified, with technical academic and professional qualifications such as engineering degrees or professional accreditations in energy efficiency surveys. We also look for staff with financial, project management or marketing experience. Good people skills are a must, some of our staff are trained as educators or are specialists in facilitation and engagement, but the most important qualities that we look for are people who are passionate about our cause, who are proactive, willing to learn and willing to try new things.  

Technology within the energy sector is advancing across the sector, from smart technologies and Artificial Intelligence to new energy efficiency products, energy generation, grid and storage. This is a growing field and further innovation will be required as we integrate energy and smart energy into our lifestyles – linking with transport, homes, work places etc…

This is a rapidly advancing sector and with increased public awareness of issues such as climate change and the need to decarbonise our lifestyles there is growing support for, and understanding of, what we do. Unfortunately, this is not always supported by all and it would be great to see more industry and political leaders in agreement with what action is needed and the timescales! 

I think Covid-19 has certainly increased the acceptance of online meeting and working remotely in sectors where this has previously been considered too difficult.