Dr Caren Lacy, Principal

Energy, Resources & Utilities

Dr Caren Lacy is the Principal of the Global Energy, Utilities, and Resources division. She works to help her clients discover innovative solutions to the most significant challenges in their industries. For example, in the utilities sector, she has helped electrical utilities take advantage of new sources of data to reduce energy losses, rapidly respond to changes in demand, and perform predictive maintenance to reduce the risk of future outages.

Her PhD in physics provides Caren with an awareness of the underlying principles behind the challenges that many of her clients encounter. Having worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the BP Institute at the University of Cambridge and as an R&D engineer in industry, she also has a deep, practical understanding of how these principles are applied to real-world problems in the industries that she advises.

Caren typically works with Innovation Managers, Chief Technology Officers, and Heads of Innovation, and strives to provide solutions that meet their goals effectively and efficiently. When helping clients reduce their industry’s carbon footprint, for example, Caren works to identify those technologies most easily integrated into their operations, and most likely to achieve their goal in an economically sustainable way.

Caren is motivated by opportunities to help her clients make their operations more competitive and efficient, while also making their businesses more environmentally sustainable. As concerns about the environmental impacts caused by the energy, utilities, and natural resources industries are growing rapidly, it is important for companies to respond to these political and social pressures. Ignoring these challenges will pose a significant risk to their businesses, while responding to these challenges effectively will allow them to take advantage of new, valuable opportunities.

Caren is Fluent in German and English. She enjoys singing in a choir, walking, and cycling.

EDUCATION

MSc Physics & Astrophysics

University of Manchester

PhD Physics

University of Manchester

CONNECT WITH CAREN

c.lacy [at] camin.com

+44 (0)7393 0455 04

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grand challenge 1

The Impacts of State and National Regulation of Carbon Emissions

The energy industry’s conventional business models are facing new challenges from both current regulations, such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard in the United States; and impending regulatory standards, such as the European Union’s goals for 2030. For energy generating companies and electric utilities, continuing to operate efficiently while complying with new carbon emissions targets established by state and national governments will be a daunting challenge. It will require them to make significant investments in early-stage technologies, including those related to carbon capture, sequestration, and utilisation; hydrogen energy technology; and second or third generation biofuels. However, these regulations also create new opportunities for companies that choose to pursue compliance and more sustainable business practices and products. These opportunities are driven by the increasing demand among consumers and other businesses for renewable products, less carbon-intensive transport fuels, electric vehicles, green electricity, and alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics. That is why smart companies now view sustainability as innovation’s next frontier.

 

Early movers who meet the demands of both existing legislation and more stringent voluntary measures will develop competencies that will provide them with significant advantages over their competitors when these voluntary standards become law. The intent of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and most other sustainability-related legislation is in fact to stimulate innovation. If developed carefully and executed effectively, innovative solutions will not only improve the sustainability of a company’s products, processes, and business models, but will also increase its revenue. There are many challenges that companies will have to overcome on their path to sustainability. Businesses must carefully map out their strategy for the road ahead, preparing for all of obstacles that they may encounter, and spending their limited time pursuing the most promising opportunities.

grand challenge 2

maintaining future Sustainability from disruptive Mobility & Infrastructure technology

Within the next two decades, petrol and diesel-powered automobiles are likely to be phased out in many parts of the world. The United Kingdom, Sweden, and China, have all proposed legislation that would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Automobile manufacturers must act now to avoid being left behind when these new laws come into effect. This transition away from fossil fuel-powered automobiles will also impact corporations in the oil and refining industries. These companies must find a way to be part of the future mobility landscape by developing or identifying alternative products to add to their portfolios. If they do not, they risk losing a significant share of their revenue.

 

Energy generation companies must also plan to respond to the changes occurring in the transportation sector. If they do not, they may suffer losses to competitors who have already invested in relevant innovations. In particular, they will need to develop the electrical infrastructure necessary to support the simultaneous charging of large numbers of electric vehicles, and must expand their electric generating capacity to cope with anticipated increases in the level of demand for electricity. Demand for hydrogen storage, distribution, and fuelling technologies will also increase over the next decade.

grand challenge 3

Grid inStability and cyberSecurity threats

The world’s energy distribution infrastructure is aging, and is under increasing pressure due to significant changes in the way that energy is being produced and consumed. The conventional producer/consumer relationship is also evolving, as many electric grids now include a growing number of small-scale communal renewable energy generators, as well as new domestic “behind-the-meter” forms of energy generation and energy storage installations. Consumers have become both producers and consumers of electricity, or “Prosumers”, and the conventional client-customer relationship is bound to change further, as peer-to-peer electricity trading and virtual power plants grow in popularity. Electric utilities and energy generators must change their business models to take advantage of these new developments or risk losing customers to early movers.

 

The nature of large, grid-scale energy production has also changed. Many Megawatt-scale wind and solar farms are now in operation or under construction. The dependence of these distributed renewable energy resources (DREs) on favourable weather conditions makes planning more challenging, as both production and demand must be accurately predicted to prevent disruptions. If not managed effectively, the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy generation can cause significant stability issues for the electric grid, such as frequency variation and voltage flicker.

 

As a result, investments in “smart grid” technologies have become vital and use of these technologies is growing. This digitalisation of the grid offers many new opportunities, but has also led to an increased threat of cyber-attacks on the grid, such as those seen in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016. Companies must invest in innovative technologies now to respond to the emerging changes in energy production, distribution, and consumption. Doing so will allow them to effectively mitigate potential risks and take advantage of valuable opportunities.

oil & gas

Carbon capture and utilisation;

Liginin-based lubricants;

Waste-to-fuel conversion;

Predictive maintenance;

Drilling technologies; etc.

Energy & power

Renewable energy smart grids;

Advanced Battery storage;

Energy production forecasting;

IoT-based predictive analytics;

Smart grid cybersecurity; etc.

ENVIRONMENTAL

Ultramembranes for water filtration;

Predictive leakage detection;

Anaerobic wastewater processing;

Passive aeration;

Bacteria for invasive species control; etc.

mining

Connectivity for underground mines;

Tailings dewatering;

Smart materials for tailings monitoring;

Automation;

Wearable technology; etc. 

Our industries of focus in Energy, Resources & Utilities.

ENERGY, RESOURCES & UTILITIES

EU OIL & GAS MNC

Identified the most innovative approaches to generate, store, transmit, and utilise renewable energy for development of an innovation strategy.

 

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ENERGY, RESOURCES & UTILITIES

EU WIND ENERGY MNC

Technology landscape of the latest developments in bio-resins, and an analysis of the technologies’ applicability within the wind energy industry.

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ENERGY, RESOURCES & UTILITIES

EU Oil & Gas SME

Technology landscaping and forecasting of early to late-stage technologies for CO2 utilisation within the entire value chain.

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ENERGY, RESOURCES & UTILITIES

BIG-FOUR CONSULTANCY

Technology due diligence and commercialisation strategy for an innovative HVAC system, including market strategy, value chain analysis, partner identification.

 

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Our most recent projects in Energy, Resources & Utilities.

Our most recent µInsight in Energy, Resources & Utilities.

Increasing solar cell competitiveness with add-on components

SUMMARY

Silicon remains the most widely-used material for solar cells largely due to its low cost. However, silicon-based  solar cells are inherently inefficient in converting solar energy to electricity, with a maximum theoretical efficiency of only 30%. However, technological measures can be taken to improve the energy conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells, and in some cases, even exceed this theoretical limit. One method involves using competitively priced 'add-on' components, which are affixed directly to the solar cell, and increase the solar energy-to-electricity conversion ratio dramatically, without significantly increasing the solar cell’s $/Wh ratio. In this paper we discuss the use of 'solar concentrators', which are 'add-on' components that increase the amount of sunlight that strikes a solar panel. In the past, solar concentrators were expensive and cumbersome, and primarily suitable for commercial installations and solar farms. Modern concentrator products have addressed these issues with innovative design solutions, such as parabolic mirror concentrators, light tracking concentrators, and integrated solar energy and water heating systems. This paper also highlights several cutting-edge developments in the design of solar concentrators from university labs, including 3D printed solar concentrators, biomimetic concentrators, and luminescent solar concentrators.

 

READ FULL INSIGHT

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