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Chloe Kinsella, Engineer - Carbon
Chloe Kinsella is a Carbon Specialist with ESBI. She studied Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in Trinity College Dublin, where she was awarded a Gold Medal for coming first in her year. She joined ESB International on their Graduate Training Programme and started work in the Carbon Solutions Team.
I am involved in the process of getting a project registered and eligible for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This process involves screening early stage projects to see if they are eligible for carbon credits, calculating the expected number of credits, preparing the appropriate documentation and then going through the steps that are necessary to get the project registered with the United Nations Executive Board.
On the technical side, I am involved in assessing whether projects are technically feasible, calculating the expected power output and preparing financial analyses of projects.
Typically when I arrive in work I check my emails and schedule my work for the day. I then begin work on the various projects.
The work could involve writing Project Design Documents (PDDs), determining the applicable methodology for a project, calculating the number of carbon credits a project would produce, calculating a country's grid emission factor (the amount of equivalent carbon dioxide produced per unit of electricity generated in the electricity system) or determining whether to proceed with a project or not.
On the technical side, I am involved in analysing if projects are technically feasible and if the technology is proven and well respected. The engineers also act as Project Managers.
There is also a lot of human interaction with the job and this involves conversing with the team or over the phone with clients.
The day finishes officially at 4.45 but sometimes I still have things to do and don't get out until 5:30 pm.
Because I joined ESBI as an engineer and now work as a carbon specialist, there has been a steep learning curve. However, I love a challenge.
Sometimes there is a heavy workload so it is hard to juggle everything.
I am very confident and personable; this helps in approaching clients and working with the team. I also am very hard working which is essential in this business and I'm always eager to learn.
I also have the comfort of falling back on a highly technical background and my analytical skills.
The job is very dynamic and varied. Since joining ESBI I have been involved in engineering, business development and the CDM process. I am currently exposed to legal contracts and financial models. The job is definitely not boring!
The great thing about ESBI is that there is the opportunity to move around within the company and experience different roles.
I also really like the people I work with. The majority of the Carbon Solutions team are female which is a pleasant change in an engineering company!
The other great thing is the travel.
One of my lecturers told me about ESBI and suggested I apply for a job. I saw a graduate programme on their website so I applied online. I was then called for an interview and soon after I was offered the job.
I joined ESBI as an engineer working in the Carbon Solutions team. I was then given the opportunity to train as a carbon specialist. Now I spend most of my time working as a carbon specialist, while still developing my engineering experience.
In transition year I did work experience in an engineering firm. I found the people very friendly and the work was interesting and varied.
For the Leaving Certificate I chose physics, chemistry and applied maths which subsequently helped me enormously when studying engineering in college.
I studied general engineering in Trinity College for two years and then specialized in mechanical and manufacturing engineering.
For my final year project I decided to undertake a "build project" in which I developed a device that used the temperature difference between night and day in the desert to generate light.
On graduating, I applied for a range of jobs in different areas ranging from banking and actuarial to the drinks industry. However it was the engineering interview with ESB International (ESBI) which seemed the most interesting.
I am currently working in the Carbon Solutions team in ESBI. The team develops and invests in carbon abatement projects in developing countries, in order to obtain carbon credits. Initially I came in as an engineer but now I am working as a carbon specialist.
In parallel to this, I decided to do a part time research masters in Trinity College. The principal aim of the masters is to generate power using waste heat from a cooking stove.
My mother was a science teacher, so she definitely had an influence on me. Every year since I was a child, my mum would give me science related toys!
In school my physics teacher was extremely enthusiastic and I didn’t mind studying the subject because I enjoyed listening.
My maths teacher also gave me plenty of encouragement.
Subsequently in college, my supervisor was quite inspirational and you couldn’t help enjoying engineering around him.
The working hours are from 8.30am to 4.45pm so I finish relatively early with time to do other activities in the day. This has allowed me to take on a part time masters. Of course, sometimes we do work longer hours but I still manage to fit in everything.
There are also plenty of sports groups within ESBI. In the summer I play TAG rugby which has a great social element. I enjoy travelling and within the Carbon Solutions team I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit. I have been to Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, London and have many more trips planned.
My subjects in school were the compulsory English, Irish, maths and then I chose French, physics, chemistry and applied mathematics. All of my subjects were at higher level.
Maths, physics, applied maths and chemistry were definitely beneficial for an engineering degree.
However in hindsight I wish I had taken one business related subject like economics or accountancy.
While my degree was engineering, in the work place I am exposed to a lot of business and I regularly work with financial models.
After school I studied engineering in Trinity College. I then specialized in mechanical and manufacturing engineering in third and fourth year.
Currently I am doing a part time research masters in Trinity entitled, "Off grid energy solutions for the developing world".
I was particularly strong at maths and I found this helped me a lot in engineering.
However the Trinity engineering course was well rounded because in addition to engineering we had an accounting module, management module, communication module and entrepreneur module.
In my current role in Carbon Solutions I do not do many calculations, except country emission factor calculations or baseline and project emission calculations. However the accounting module has come in useful as I work with financial models.
The communication module also helped me with report writing.
An engineering degree also gives you a great ability to take apart a problem and manage it in small logical steps. This is definitely useful in all aspects of work.
The most important thing I learned from the degree was the ability to work in a team. It is very important in any job to be able to work in a team and to get on with others.
I am currently doing a part time research engineering masters in Trinity College Dublin.
Within ESBI there is an internal training and development programme.
Each year you can opt to undertake further training in a number of specific areas, for example presentation skills or AutoCAD training.
I came first in mechanical and manufacturing engineering in Trinity College and was awarded a Gold Medal. This was definitely something I was proud of.
I was also really proud of my final year project. I designed and built a device that used the temperature difference between night and day in the desert to generate light.
When I first started to work for the Carbon Solutions team in ESBI, I participated in a lot of business development. This involved trying to find projects in our target markets: South-East Asia and South Africa. I was quite successful in contacting people and sourcing projects, something which gave me a real buzz.
In my current role I enjoy proving the additionality of projects by demonstrating that without the added incentive from the carbon credits, the project faces either financial or technical barriers which prevent its implementation.
People working as carbon specialist come from many different backgrounds. In fact one of my former colleagues came from a genetics background, while the others were from an engineering background.
In Ireland at the moment it is quite hard to get into the carbon space so you may have to go abroad for training.
To pursue a career in engineering it is important to have a strong technical background.
I did my engineering work experience with Project Management Group in Tallaght during Transition Year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
ESB International also has an excellent work experience programme.
For work experience specifically relating to the carbon area, there are many events and training workshops in Ireland and England that can give you a taste for the carbon market.