In the next of our series highlighting the roles of women in the energy networks, ENA's Head of Open Networks, Farina Farrier, gives her views on the challenges facing the industry and why she's enjoying playing her part in delivering Net Zero.
What’s your current role at ENA and what does your job involve?
I have recently stepped into the role of Head of Open Networks at ENA. Open Networks project is a cross industry initiative that is laying the foundations of a smart and flexible energy system that will support Net Zero. As the project begins its fifth year, we are ramping up our efforts to open up local markets for flexibility to enable renewable resources to participate in them. We have over 24 products with over 94 deliverables scoped for this year.
My role as the head of the team is to lead the end-to-end delivery of the project and ensure that we continue to build on the momentum and drive the changes that are needed to support the rollout of smart grid functionality. 2021 is a particularly exciting year for me in this role as we are seeing more clarity from the government on policy for UK’s decarbonisation.
What first interested you in being part of the energy industry and how did you join?
I started my career in the oil and gas sector in 2008 as a field engineer, and from there I transitioned further downstream in the sector with a project management role for a gas distribution network company. I have always enjoyed working in the energy sector and in particular, energy networks, as they essentially power the world.
My time as a project manager delivering gas infrastructure projects gave me exposure to the wider industry and the challenges that it's faced with. Joining the Open Networks team has allowed me to contribute to one of the most important contemporary issues facing the energy sector.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Energy networks play a key role in the day to day lives of people and are vital to the economy. With the energy revolution underway, it is a great time to not only be a part of the challenge but also to contribute towards the solution that will enable a sustainable future.
A key highlight for me this year was seeing the difference that our work in Open Networks has made in supporting local flexibility markets with almost 3GW planned for tender this year and potentially more to come.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged everyone’s ways of working and for me personally, having less face-to-face interaction has taken a bit of getting used to but on the bright side, we have all learned new ways of working and engaging with people.
How do you bring your previous experience from outside the sector to your current role?
Having worked in different parts of the energy sector across three continents, I have an appreciation for the wider energy chain and bring in broader perspectives into the team. In terms of ways of working, my project management background has given me a strong appreciation for robust planning and execution – and this is something that I have found incredibly helpful in this role.
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About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.