National Grid substation engineer Dave Tyrer is celebrating 50 years of working within the electricity industry.
Dave, from Chester in Cheshire, started with the Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board (MANWEB) in 1973 as a student engineer. He self-enrolled on electrical engineering courses and later became sponsored by MANWEB to develop his career further, joining a training scheme to become an Electrical and Electronic Power System Engineer (PSE). He later joined the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1979 as a 3rd Engineer.
He spent 23 years progressing through the engineering ladder and became 1st Engineer with National Grid in 1992. For the next nine years, Dave worked in various critical project roles, some of which moved him into the business system software replacement area of the business, where he was challenged to move with the evolving technology around him.
In 2007, he moved onto work as a project manager, across what was Major Infrastructure Projects, Capital Delivery and most recently, Asset Operations. He is currently the Project Manager for the Deeside Off Grid Innovation Centre works and the SVC replacement works at Cellarhead 400kV substation. Across Dave’s career, he’s covered the full lifecycle of projects from development to delivery. And during his 50 years of service, he’s removed and replaced equipment which were originally part of projects he once put in!
What do you most enjoy about working for National Grid?
I have always felt spoilt as an engineer at National Grid. For as a young engineer I had the opportunity to be involved in everything from nuclear power stations, pump storage and hydro-electric schemes, with such a huge variety it continued to keep me interested.
One of the highlights of my career was working on Dinorwig hydroelectric power station in the 1980s, it set the scene for my career at National Grid. Back then, this was one of the biggest projects the then CEGB had undertaken and was worth around £440m. It was a huge job and took a while to get to grips with as a young Commissioning Engineer within the Commissioning Team. But from that, I had been part of a large construction project and I didn’t shy away from that as I moved forwards in my career.
How has National Grid and the industry changed over the course of your career?
It has been fascinating to work in an industry which is continuing to change and evolve on such a fundamental scale on the journey towards net zero. As more renewables are connected to the system, we now see power being generated from many more geographical locations which has presented new challenges to overcome.
Over the last fifteen years, my focus at National Grid has shifted – I’m now connecting more wind farms and fewer power stations - which has been a hugely motivating and exciting transition in my career.
I’ve been lucky to have worked on a variety of projects with National Grid that are enabling a low carbon future. These have ranged from helping to facilitate the Western HVDC link – which will transport renewable energy from Scotland to homes and businesses in Wales and England – to the conversion of Deeside’s Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plant in Flintshire. The Deeside Power Station’s two gas turbines have been repurposed to provide National Grid ESO with vital system support services – securing power supplies and enabling more wind and solar generation.
Currently, I’m a project manager at Deeside Centre for Innovation (DCI), a 400kV modified substation now used for testing and research activities – the first of its kind in Europe – offering 24/7 testing for electricity network assets, under real-life conditions.
What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
One of the biggest challenges was the delivery of the power station connection schemes, which are incredibly interesting but very challenging. In this role, I was dealing with different businesses, ethics and critical timelines on a day-to-day basis and front of mind is that holding up a scheme can cause many million pounds worth of delays. The key is not to constrain them but ensuring you are always acting safely and proactively.
How would your colleagues describe you?
‘That I’ve been here forever!’
I like to think of myself as an approachable person, with years of experience behind me, I understand the challenges you face across various roles, so if the team value my opinion, I am happy to support where I can.
What's your advice to anybody starting out in their career?
Get to grips with any new technology, develop IT skills and understand as many of the different business systems as you can. Develop your project management skills and continue with relevant professional development
Most of all, maintain a personal mechanism to deal with the change that will inevitably happen at different points in your career.
And of course, if you are just starting out in the industry, looking to develop your skills and knowledge and are passionate about tackling climate change and pursuing a career with real purpose – then one of our graduate or apprenticeship programmes may be for you.
How do you get downtime?
Outside of work, I enjoy a hobby, that I can only describe as ‘marmite’…caravanning! I enjoy travelling to various locations throughout the year, to take downtime from work and relax with friends. Whilst travelling, one of my many passions is industrial archaeology, I love a chance to visit anything with any significant historical relevance to our past like old railways, Industrial Heritage and aviation museums.
So, what’s next?
For now, I’ll continue working on all thing's construction and Deeside. Eventually, I’ll work towards retirement and work on smaller projects, like house renovation to keep me going! And of course, I will still be travelling in the caravan when I get the chance.
At National Grid, we keep people connected and society moving. But it’s so much more than that. We’re dreamers, big-thinkers, innovators and builders.
Building a clean, fair and affordable energy future is no easy feat, and it takes all of us. But National Grid supplies us with the environment to make it happen – energising us, empowering us to find solutions, giving us time to recharge and providing a safety net on tougher days. Whatever team you are in and whenever you are, your role is integral to our mission.
Innovation and technology are enabling us to supercharge the path to finding a better way, for everyone. And as we generate momentum in the energy transition for all, we’ll build a brighter future for everyone.
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So join us, and find what makes you, Superpowered.
Find out more by visiting our National Grid Careers website.
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