A day in the life of: Andrew Henderson, Power Systems Engineer

Our colleagues are at the heart of the ESO, working hard to operate a safe and reliable electricity system, whilst supporting the transition to a greener, and more efficient system for future generations.

Andrew Henderson, Power Systems Engineer, gives an insight into his time at the ESO, and tells us about his recent Young Energy Professionals award nomination.

When did you join and what made you want to work for National Grid?

I joined in September 2017 on the graduate scheme. I’d studied Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Loughborough University. I first joined National Grid during a Power Academy Scheme that National Grid sponsored whilst I was at university.

I completed three six-month rotations, the first in Technical Operations with the System Operator (SO), then Investment Delivery with the TO, and finally I joined NAP (Network Access Planning) with the SO, where I have continued to work since.

Can you tell us about your current role?

I’m a Power Systems Engineer in NAP and it’s a role I really enjoy. It’s a mixture of technical engineering, but I also spend a lot of time speaking to internal and external stakeholders and customers.

We plan the transmission outages with my focus being on the Scottish network. The main task is to ensure the network is secure under certain fault conditions, whilst facilitating as greater access to the network as possible for customers to be able complete maintenance and reinforcements.

The Scottish network is very different - there's a lot of renewable generation like wind and hydro, less inertia and it's less interconnected than the network in England and Wales.

I work with customers to see if they’re happy when we make changes and take assets offline. A lot of it is explaining the works and what we’re doing.

The Scottish network can be challenging because of the high amounts of wind and hydro. The network is very different to England, because there is a lot of renewable generation, less inertia, and it is less interconnected than the England and Wales network. There are many scenarios we must consider that are heavily dependent on wind generation.

You were recently nominated for a Young Energy Professionals (YEP) Award. How did that happen?

It was a bit of a shock when my manager nominated me. I heard there were over 100 applications so I’m proud to have been shortlisted. The award is for ‘Outstanding achievement in responding to COVID-19’. There were a couple of areas which I’ve had to do a lot of extra work due to the pandemic.

My main task is to create a transmission plan from scratch for a year ahead. The Scottish Transmission Owner (TO) had some issues due to constrictions for contractors when construction work had to halt, so we had to re-plan the whole plan. Low demand also changed things but helped me in a way – because of it we didn’t have to pull as much power from the north of England when wind was low.

The other part of the nomination was regarding a request from a TO to de-energise an area of the network due to an equipment safety issue that led to multiple wind farms coming offline for several weeks. We had to plan and consider commercial and legal implications along with system safety to replace the generation. We also had to host a weekly call with the customers and the TO to get progress updates.

How did lockdown impact you?

Despite looking after Scotland I’m based in the south of England so I’m used to speaking to customers remotely. I am used to speaking to my team a lot, but we managed the transition to online communication well. I do think a lot of the technology we’ve started using will help us longer term.

The pandemic probably was a bigger issue for me personally. When I graduated, I moved into my Dads house which is close to the office. The lockdown meant I couldn’t see my girlfriend so I moved into her parents’ house.

Our first home purchase fell through but then we managed to find another house and moved in last month.

I also had to cancel a holiday to Sicily. I haven’t booked anything as I suspected this wouldn’t go away quickly.

Now things have eased it’s nice to be able to go to the gym again, see friends and go mountain biking.