James Fergusson of Orkney’s EMEC Wins Top Industry Award

James Ferguson, Research and Development Engineer, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney has won the Scottish Renewables Young and Inspiring Award at the 2020 Green Energy Awards.

The awards ceremony was hosted virtually on 27th November 2020.

Commenting on the award James said:

“I am delighted and honoured to receive this award. I would like to thank EMEC for the nomination, as well as my lead supervisors, past and present: Dimitri Mignard, Adam Robinson, Matthew Finn, Jon Clipsham and Scott Crawford.

“I would also like to thank Chris Goodall for drawing my attention to hydrogen technology through his book, The Switch, and the University of Edinburgh for leading the IDCORE programme.

“It is terrific to see the host of nominations in all the categories and I hope we can all work together to take responsibility for our amazing world and deliver a green energy system for Scotland – and beyond.”

Having graduated with a chemical engineering MEng from the University of Edinburgh, James joined EMEC in 2017 taking on the role of Hydrogen Research Engineer to work towards an Engineering Doctorate through the Industrial Centre for Doctoral Training for Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE) programme.

James was one of a small number of EngD students funded by IDCORE to help accelerate the deployment of offshore renewables through delivering world-class industrially focussed research. He was co-supervised by Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, and Exeter with EMEC as industrial supervisor.

At EMEC, James assessed the potential of a green hydrogen economy in Orkney and performed techno-economic assessment on EMEC’s electrolysis plant. The connection between renewables (wind / tidal) and hydrogen is a key part of the global energy transition and James’ work was key to enable industry to gain a detailed understanding of the economics.

James’ thesis, due to be submitted in the coming months, investigated the modelling of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis and using the data on a micro scale to help understand the macro problem of how much green hydrogen can be produced and at what cost.

James has presented his work at UK and international conferences, most recently at the 2019 World Hydrogen Technology Convention in Japan. He also supports EMEC with media visits, contributing valued insight on hydrogen developments in interviews, and takes an active role in outreach events to increase others’ understanding of hydrogen’s role in the energy system. He is a STEM ambassador, giving regular talks and science demonstrations at local schools and has presented at the Orkney International Science Festival.

Following a short break upon completion of his research funding, James started his new role as Research and Development Engineer with EMEC in October 2020.

Matthew Finn, EMEC’s Commercial Director, said:

“Orkney has been at the forefront of hydrogen R&D and James’ modelling work has been instrumental in helping EMEC build a business case for a local green hydrogen economy. This has fed directly into a range of innovation projects keeping EMEC at the cutting edge.

“His passion for community outreach and knowledge sharing is excellent and James is first-rate in helping audiences of all ages to better understand renewables and hydrogen.

” EMEC has grown rapidly over the last few years and seeing experts like James develop through the company is really encouraging as we ramp up activities for the years ahead.”

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