BLOG: COP27 Gender Day with
Debbie Henderson and Amanda Hutcheson

14 November 2022

One of the goals of the COP27 Gender Day is to hold discussions to “encourage global coordination to empower women’s participation in climate action.” 

Two women at Horizons who play a vital role in helping drive our green agenda are Debbie Henderson and Amanda Hutcheson.  Having joined us earlier this year, both Debbie and Amanda are already making their mark in their respective fields.  We chatted with them about how their roles are helping reduce emissions and contribute to our net zero targets.

Debbie Henderson, Team Leader – Solar Power

Governments across the world have declared a climate emergency and I think it’s important that we all play a part in reducing our carbon footprint, no matter how big or small.

I’m passionate about protecting our environment and I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to drive forward Horizons’ solar power portfolio.  We have an extremely ambitious programme to deliver to help Scottish Water achieve operational net zero emissions by 2030.   

Thankfully I have a brilliant team of project managers whom I lead, support and inspire to make the most of new renewable energy opportunities.  It’s all about identifying and developing new renewable energy generation assets – and delivering them at pace.

Already Horizons has delivered over 50 solar energy schemes across the length and breadth of Scotland.  Our new solar programme however will eclipse this in terms of system size and speed of delivery. 

At a programme level, I’m constantly looking for new ways to deliver projects better and quicker to keep the pace required.  Mostly that’s about focusing on making the right decisions quickly and prioritising key tasks.  Innovation is also vital and we’re keen to explore more bifacial solar energy opportunities as well as floating solar schemes.

It’s also about contractor and stakeholder engagement and ensuring we’re all pulling in the same direction.  Having an efficient supply chain is essential to ensure we get pace and the very best performance.

Some of the stakeholders I engage with include the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) who play an important part in helping us secure grid connections.  This involves understanding their constraints so that we can try to, as far as possible, ensure that our own renewable programme is aligned with their investment programme.

Ultimately, it’s about maximising renewable opportunity and making sure we’re all pulling together to accelerate delivery.  Our motto is bigger, bolder, faster and I’m relishing the challenge!

 Solar PV panels, comprised of double-sided ‘bifacial’ and standard modules

Amanda Hutcheson, Project Manager – Hydro Power

Having come from an environmental background, I’m delighted to be able to contribute to Horizons’ new and growing hydro-electric portfolio.  With approximately 63% of Scottish Water’s carbon footprint being the consumption of grid electricity, installing renewable energy schemes such as hydro turbines, will go a long way to reach both Scottish Water’s and Scotland’s net zero targets.

My role is about identifying and developing new hydro generation opportunities using Scottish Water’s asset base or the water environment in close proximity to them.  There’s an incredible amount of energy lost in operational processes and our national environment and it’s fantastic to be able to harness this wasted energy for wider benefit.

Hydro turbines also have a long life and are one of the most sustainable and cost-effective technologies for producing green electricity. 

Since joining Horizons, I’ve been looking at a wide variety of hydro generation opportunities including water and waste water treatment works, reservoirs, in-networks, run-of-river schemes as well as hybrid hydro and solar schemes.  These schemes will ultimately help power Scottish Water’s operational assets, feed into the National Grid, or a combination of both.

Identifying viable projects involves reviewing flow and water pressure data to determine the potential power that could be generated and assess what it’s likely to cost.  For those that progress through this ‘opportunity funnel’ I then carry out more detailed assessments and work with contractors to design the hydro scheme.

A key part of my role is liaising with various internal and external stakeholders to secure relevant approvals before progressing to the delivery stage.  We have some exciting schemes coming up in 2023 and beyond and I’m excited to see what the future of hydro holds.

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