Meet Conchi Lopez (right), a renewable energy expert who joined Celtic Renewables as a Technical Operator a year ago. Below, she speaks about what led her to Celtic Renewables and her involvement around COP26.
How did you begin working at Celtic Renewables?
CL: While at university I studied a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering, and since leaving I have also studied further into renewable energy, so it is a field that I am very passionate about!
Towards the end of 2020, I saw a job opening for a company that was building the first biorefinery in Scotland, which really interested me, so I did more research into Celtic Renewables. The opportunity, and especially the sustainable concept, sounded really exciting, so I decided to apply – and here I am!
What made you want to work at Celtic Renewables?
CL: Part of my dissertation was designing a biorefinery, so I was already familiar with that concept. I am also passionate about low-carbon alternatives, that’s why I did my master’s in renewable energy. Having the chance to be a part of the Celtic Renewables journey and having a positive impact on society with our process really motivated me to work for them.
What is your favourite part about working at Celtic Renewables?
CL: I love how passionate everyone is about bringing ABE fermentation back to life. It’s wonderful to work in a place where everyone has the same target and works with the same focus and enthusiasm to make this possible.
I also like how everyone’s ideas are valued. If you have an idea, you can talk to anyone, they are very approachable, and they will listen to you and take those ideas into account. I really feel like a valued employee.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the future of the industry?
CL: In the short term, I am looking forward to seeing us produce the first batch of solvents once commissioning is complete. Going from starting in the lab, which is where I work, to then finishing in the process area, will be amazing.
In the long-term, I am excited about all the new, upcoming projects, like building plants around the world and using new raw materials. I can’t wait to see how Celtic Renewables will grow, because this is only the beginning of something huge.
You were involved in some of the media coverage about Celtic Renewables during COP26, what was that experience like for you?
CL: It was really exciting! When Good Morning Britain came to visit the plant, I was there to help them better understand our process by showing them what we do in the lab and how we can create a greener future. I was even featured in the clip that was shown on ITV!
We also welcomed many guests during COP26 who were all interested in what exactly we are doing here and it was amazing to get to talk about how far Celtic Renewables has come – from starting out at Edinburgh Napier University to becoming a small start-up to building Scotland’s first biorefinery. Being part of showing the guests around the plant, even showing them the bacteria in the lab, our raw materials and how we then produce the solvents, was a great experience.
Overall, COP26 and the activities around it were a great opportunity to spread the word about Celtic Renewables around the world.
What is one thing you do in your day-to-day life to be more sustainable?
CL: Mainly through my studies, I have become very aware of issues related to sustainability, and what bothers me the most is food waste. I try to avoid this by not overbuying and using up everything I have in the kitchen, even if it means making recipes that seem a little weird. What I also do is trust my own senses when it comes to perishable food instead of just following the best-before date.
Additionally, I try to use the car as little as possible. Whenever I can walk somewhere, that’s what I do.