Sibani Panda - A new challenge awaits every day

Today we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day by meeting some of the ESO’s female engineers who are keeping the lights on.

Sibani Panda is a Transmission Security Engineer working on our Scotland South Desk in the ESO’s National Control Centre. We spoke to Sibani to understand how she has developed her engineering career and what she does today to look after Great Britain’s energy system second by second.  

Tell us a bit about yourself  

I joined National Grid back in 2015 after graduating from Manchester University where I studied Power System Engineering. I started out as a National Scotland Planner in NAP (Network Access Planning). I really enjoyed this role as I used to plan transmission outages – where a transmission is temporarily ‘unplugged’ from the grid to undergo testing or maintenance.

I would also maintain network security so that customers could safely perform maintenance on the network whilst still keeping the grid running reliably.  

As part of my career development plan, I moved to the Control Room as Assistant Transmission Security Engineer England and Wales North. I enjoyed improving my technical knowledge significantly and I also speaking to stakeholders and customers. I had to monitor the energy levels on the grid constantly to make sure we were providing the right amount of energy in the most cost-effective way.  

Today I am a Transmission Security Engineer on Scotland South Desk in National Control 

What does your role entail and how does it support the ESO in creating a system which can operate at zero carbon by 2025? 

In my current role, I work on system outage plans, where part of the grid is temporarily disconnected for maintenance or testing. I also monitor the system for incidents such as equipment unexpectedly going offline and create plans to deal with these incidents. For example, if part of the system goes down temporarily, we might need to adjust how much renewable energy we are creating in response to this.

A new challenge awaits every day – no two days are the same!

The Scottish network already includes a lot of renewable generation like wind, hydro and interconnectors. We have been successfully managing the network by continuously finding better ways to overcome the challenges that renewables present.

With more windfarms and interconnectors being connected to the network, operating the system in real time will be a challenge. As a Transmission Security Engineer it's my job to explore how we can improve the system to make sure it is resilient enough to handle the variable conditions that renewable energy creates. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Believe in yourself and stay strong. People may doubt you but the best is yet to come.  

Sibani Panda 2