Interview with Patricia Comiskey, Ocean Energy Programme Manager at SEAI
Tell us about your current role and how it relates to the energy sector?
I work as the Programme Manager for Ocean Energy. The role is primarily about how SEAI can help ocean energy technologies develop so that they can be used commercially to generate renewable electricity. Irish has massive potential in this area….we have heaps of ocean! However the technology is very much at a research stage….so we are working on how we can progress this through funding research; providing research facilities and test sites; advising on policy developments required to support progress of the sector etc.
What inspired you to get into this area of work?
I have always loved the sea… I grew up by the coast and loved spending time there, so always wanted a job which would let me work with the sea. I also wanted to do something that mattered so finding a job that allowed me to work on renewable energy at sea was ideal.
What is your professional background?
I trained as a marine biologist and worked for 10 years in Bord Iascaigh Mhara the Sea Fisheries Board (BIM). Then a job came up in SEAI and I know I wanted to work in the area of renewables so I took a leap of faith and jumped. At first I was working with the delivery team in SEAI on the home energy grants… but within a few years a position came up on the ocean team which I got and have worked in ever since.
What was your first role?
My first role was with BIM in EU policy development for fisheries. I loved working with the fishing sector and learnt a lot in BIM on policy development; stakeholder engagement; project management etc into my current role- sometimes I miss it….Julie in my team says that if I get a chance to talk about fish I will!
What do you enjoy about your current role?
I like the variety in the role, we work right across the spectrum of support so work directly with technology developers; policy makers; other government agencies; industry representatives; funding bodies; EU commission… each day is different.
How does your role impact people/society?
Ocean Energy has the capacity to change our future renewable energy offering. The potential for ocean and offshore wind energy off Ireland has been estimated as 70GW- which is more than 10 times our current national energy need. It is still a long way off but even if we captured a quarter of this- it would change Irelands energy future for the better, bring jobs to remote parts of the west coast, reduce our dependency on oil imports, improve our security of supply, export energy to the continent… the benefits for our future society are limitless.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
For the next 5 years, I want to help the government put in place robust policies and structures which will allow Ireland access its offshore potential. I want to ensure that our R&D support for offshore energy grows and thrives; I want to help establish Ireland as a true green isle… by using its blue power!
What advice would you offer women hoping to join this sector?
Go for it. The sector is multifaceted so needs lots of different skills and disciplines to help it grow and develop. If you have the passion to work in the area- you will find a place.
What advice would you offer women in the early stages of their career in this sector?
Lean in, take ownership of tasks, think strategically, take opportunities, if a direct route isn’t there to go up- move sideways!
What about the Women in Energy Network event at the RDS?
Building on the success of themed events in previous years, the Women in Energy Network will be running a networking event at this year’s SEAI Energy Show in the RDS on the 1st April 2020. The theme for this year will be ‘Leadership’.
The event will feature a panel of female leaders in Ireland’s energy sector, who will be speaking on their experiences, achievements and ambitions for the future.
Keep an eye out on our website for further details.
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