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Chris Jackson – #TeamRenewables

by RES | Mar 11, 2021 | Reading time: 4 min

At RES, our teams across the world work together to provide value and efficiencies for our customers and the communities in which we operate. Each site is the chance for us to power homes, businesses and essential networks with clean energy, and support local communities with power, jobs and funding.

In this months’ #TeamRenewables, we meet Chris Jackson, Senior Development Project Manager who leads on projects across England and Wales.

The Role

As the Senior Development Manager in England and Wales, Chris is responsible for taking projects through the planning and development phases, as well as supporting the operations team in the life extensions of existing assets.

Into his tenth year of working at RES, Chris has been able to upskill in all of RES’ technologies, and now works predominantly managing projects in onshore wind and solar. Most of his time is spent on leading projects in the stages leading up to the construction of the wind farms, and he takes a supporting role thereafter.

Chris works with a wide variety of people across different teams and countries, depending on the project and the stage of each development. He adds: “I have a highly skilled team of specialists who generally work with me on England and Wales-based projects, and then we work with external consultants for things like landscape, archaeology and ecology when planning a project.

“Meeting so many new people is one of the things that I love about this job.”

A day in the life

Chris says organisation is key in his role as he jumps from project to project, responsible for the coordination and management of team members – both RES colleagues and external contractors.

One day, Chris could be working on planning applications or working with ecologists on site plans, and the next he could be speaking to key stakeholders including landowners and local or national politicians. An important part of his role is managing key relationships, including local communities, contractors, landowners and development partners, to ensure a smooth and efficient development process for all parties. Chris works with site managers to ensure that protocols and safety measures are implemented at each site and communicated with those on site.

Chris’ role also involves the management of cost reduction work streams – taking a look at where base cost reductions can be made to help make projects happen in the most effective way, in addition to bringing forward some smaller-scale efficiencies too.

From an overall strategy point of view, Chris and the other development managers across the UK and Ireland meet regularly to discuss activity in each region, sharing knowledge and best practice.

Chris adds: “You realise the scale of the company when you can meet and share knowledge with people from other countries and regions. It really helps us move forward as a company and provide our customers with the highest quality of service.”

In addition to his day-to-day role with RES, Chris sits on the RenewableUK Cymru Strategy Group, which supports the Welsh renewable energy industry. The strategy group aims to further the industry in Wales, providing evidence to support and drive policy changes and position Wales as a key player in the industry.

Career journey

Chris started out in the mining industry, undertaking a mining engineering degree at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.  Working as a Chartered Engineer in a mining and minerals consultancy for 15 years, he built a wide range of skills including project management and environmental management which were completely transferable to the renewables industry, which he joined in 2004 and he hasn’t looked back since.

What inspired Chris to work in renewables? “It was an up and coming industry that I’d been keeping an eye on for several years. I thought it would be really interesting and when the opportunity arose to join the industry, I took it with both hands.”

Has it lived up to his expectations? “Completely. I’ve got 17 years of experience working in renewables and hope to have many more. The future of renewables looks more promising than ever and I look forward to continuing to work in the industry.”

The future of renewables

“I’m a firm believer that we need to roll out renewables across the world as fast as possible, and that’s the way we are heading. Companies and individuals need to keep the pressure on the key decision makers to make sure that we continue to accelerate the pace.”

Chris has seen his own role evolve over the time he’s worked in the industry – starting in 2004 he worked for a Spanish company focusing on onshore wind and this was definitely dominating the industry at the time. Other technologies have followed suit, but the pace of each technology’s development is shaped by government policies. The cost of equipment and parts in wind and solar have come down at different times, and this has supported the viability of projects at different times.

Chris adds: “Over the next few years? I think we will see more co-location of different technologies like wind, solar and battery storage on the same site. This saves costs on infrastructure and improves viability while also supporting the electricity supply network.

“With this co-existence of different technologies, renewables will continue to grow and develop at a greater scale.”

Working at RES

“RES is a key player in the industry and is well equipped as the industry moves forward as there are so many different skills, knowledge and experience within the company spanning wind, solar and storage.”

When asked about what it’s like to work at RES, Chris says: “It’s hard to recognise that it’s such a big company as it really does feel like a tight-knit community. It generally only takes one conversation before you have another friend within the company – we’ve all got similar values and goals and so we collaborate well.

“Everyone’s really helpful and always has time for you. When we all started working from home last year, the company started many initiatives to support us, including coffee roulette. For this, you put your name forward and you are set up with another colleague from anywhere across the world for a coffee break. It really is a great way to find out more about our colleagues and meet new people from other places.

“We’re also allocated four volunteering days a year, which I really value. We’re a small team in Cardiff and we always try to get involved. Last year, we went to a children’s centre and gave their garden a makeover – it was a great opportunity to work together to give back to local communities.”

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