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Greg Cooper – #TeamRenewables

by RES | Jan 20, 2023 | Reading time: 4 min

As a pioneer within the offshore wind industry since its inception in the 1990s, RES’ historic offshore wind portfolio includes projects such as Lynn and Inner Dowsing, Lincs, Race Bank, East Anglia One, and most recently St Brieuc, to name but a few. RES also provides O&M services to six OFTOS in the UK&I and St Brieuc in France.  

In this latest edition of Team Renewables, we speak to Greg Cooper, UK&I Offshore Operations Project Lead for one of the Offshore Transmission Owner’s (OFTO) assets we operate and maintain. 

Read his story in the latest #TeamRenewables: 

Career Journey  

I began my career as an electronic telecommunications apprentice straight from school, working in the aviation industry providing O&M support to air traffic control and associated landing systems. After completing my apprenticeship, I landed (pun intended) a job working for an electrical manufacturer as an electrical engineer specialising in dissolved gas analysis (DGA) of transformers, taking me around the world largely to Europe and the Middle East.  

I then moved back to the UK, where I worked on testing high voltage electrical equipment. Up until this point I had only dipped my toes into HV testing within the offshore wind industry and hadn’t yet worked full-time on any renewable assets until. This changed when I moved to a well-known UK construction company in 2017. Across four years I gained more experience working on OFTO’s including offshore/onshore substations and associated subsea cables. 

In 2020, I joined RES under slightly unconventional circumstances due to the pandemic in which I witnessed how the industry adapted to the restrictions with social distancing and regular testing. However, with only half the team allowed on the boat due to the social distancing restrictions, everyday O&M tasks became more challenging, which forced us to find a different way of working.  

What are you most proud of at RES? 

That’s a hard one! I tend to downplay most of my achievements (my line manager hates discussing my Personal Development Review with me) but I would say I’m proud of the level of service we deliver in our contracts. If my day is uneventful then I see that as positive. 

I’m also extremely proud of how seriously RES takes safety. Last year I was involved with the Emergency Response Exercise, Operation Sancho, which was held at one of our client’s sites. This was the first of a three-yearly exercise, which will help the industry to test, learn and improve. Although it was executed in the UK, the learnings from the exercise will help drive safety performance across the global industry. 

Where do you see your career in five years’ time? 

At the moment I’m really enjoying project management so perhaps an increase in project size – overseeing multiple sites. Since the beginning my career, I’ve seen and worked with all forms of energy generation eventually finding my way to renewables! 

The Role 

In my role as Project Manager for an OFTO asset I can wear several hats at once but in a nutshell, I manage the planned operation and maintenance for one of the OFTO’s that RES looks after on behalf of our clients.  

I have quite a varied role which can be client-facing one day to knee deep in a pile of spreadsheets the next. I’m responsible for liaising with the clients (OFTO’s) of the asset including the vessel providers, crew and contractors, acting as the point of contact for all day-to day running’s. 

I also oversee all operations and maintenance work that takes place on my project which includes delivering our KPI’s by coordinating our offshore and onshore work schedule, procuring, budgeting and preparing costings for O&M contracts and equipment. As well as producing and reviewing reports for clients, risk assessments and procedures and reacting to emergency faults and incidents at any time 24/7. 

A day in the life  

When I’m visiting one of the offshore substations, my day starts quite early as the commute to work (23 miles off the Norfolk Coast) can be on average two and half hours when the weather is good and the seasickness stays at bay, otherwise it can feel a lot longer than two and half hours. 

Before climbing aboard, I make sure I’ve had a good breakfast, preferably a big fry-up but other options are available. Everyone in the offshore world will have their own ideas about how to cure or avoid seasickness but for me, a fry up seems to do the trick – any excuse.  

At the substation, I’ll oversee all planned works for the day as well as completing routine inspections as I go, highlighting anything that could be a potential problem. Because of the nature of offshore, getting to the substation can be an achievement, if we’ve managed to avoid getting weathered off. Once we’ve transferred, we hit the ground running making sure to take every opportunity to complete as much work as possible in the time we have, to avoid additional costs to the clients.  

Tell us about your favourite hobbies and interests  

I have a young family back at home, so they keep me busy such as wandering around the village catching Pokémon with my eldest son.  

However, when the kids are preoccupied, I get time to continue to rebuild and restore my classic 1971 Series 2a Land Rover, currently deconstructed in my workshop. I started the restoration just over two years ago which started out as an engine change but quickly ended up being a full nut and bolt rebuild. Once finished, I think I might try my hand at designing and building a new electric conversion, classic Land Rover! 

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