Intern Louis' energy drives council's green plans

Louis Ferrando spent a five-month internship with Essex County Council looking at the best clean energy options for the local authority. The recent graduate tells us about his experience on the internship and how what he learned has helped him as he begins his career.

Pinpointing solutions to one of the biggest challenges facing humanity – the future of energy - was the sizeable task for ARU student Louis during his internship with the local authority.

Quantity Surveying student Louis spent five months with Essex County Council looking at opportunities for clean energy growth in the North Essex region. He put together a detailed report and recommendations, which were presented to councillors and officers at the conclusion of his internship.

The 21-year-old, who has now graduated with first class honours, believes the experience will be vital as he looks to build a career in the renewables sector.

He says: “The project was so interesting because clean energy is such a massive topic; I felt like I had a good knowledge base when I started out, but when I joined the council I soon realised there was a lot to take in and I really enjoyed the work.

“I was given independence to research my report and come up with solutions, while knowing I had the support of a lot of really experienced people working in my department.”

Louis’s report included four key recommendations around addressing rural fuel poverty, the benefits of large-scale solar farms, opportunities in bioenergy and the potential to modernise the port at Harwich to incorporate more hydrogen and offshore wind technology.

He says his internship was hugely beneficial to his work on his dissertation, which focused on living roofs – where plants are grown on rooftops – for public buildings.

“I applied for the internship because I thought it would give me good experience in a field aligned with my dissertation, and it was certainly really helpful supporting that work,” he says.

“For my dissertation I was investigating the benefits and drawbacks of living roofs, and what the perceptions of stakeholders were about them. There are many different types of living roof, so I was looking at whether the people who are paying for them to be installed know what they’re getting, and how you could raise awareness to get them better used, as there’s a lot of empty roof space at schools and universities.”

Louis has now landed his first job as a quantity surveyor with a firm specialising in turning landfill waste into energy using a chemical incineration process known as pyrolysis.

“I’d definitely recommend internships to any other students, the council were keen to get new thinking around clean energy and they were really open to my ideas,” he adds.

Michael Veasey, principal economic growth officer for place and public health at Essex County Council, says: “Louis produced a brilliant and thought-provoking report which has been presented to colleagues across Essex County Council, including people who are leading our work on climate change”.

“As well as doing that, he became a valuable member of the team. He’d only been with us a month before he got sent to work from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and he was happy to support us with our response to the pandemic, taking on work outside his core project.

“It was challenging for him because he had just done a dissertation so was used to writing for academic audience, and this was for a business and local authority audience, but he managed to balance that very well; his report had the strength in research of an academic document, but it was easily digestible for the people it was targeted at.”

Michael says the council is in discussions to take on more ARU interns in future following the positive impact Louis made during his time as part of the team.

“I’ve worked at ARU in the past so I knew the sort of people they have available,” he says. “We had five excellent candidates for the internship, but we selected Louis and I’m very glad we did.

“The team here have ‘been there and done it’ and seen it all before. Louis came in with none of that baggage, and brought his knowledge and understanding as well as an original viewpoint, and we were very pleased with the outcome of his work. I can’t praise him highly enough, he provided excellent value especially bearing in mind that we would probably have had to pay consultants three or four times as much for a report of the same quality.

"It’s great to have the experience of working with a young person who has brought knowledge and insight from his own background to Essex County Council, and hopefully we’ve helped contribute to him going on to bigger and better things.”

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