“We have learned that we are very resilient and have discovered extra efficiencies we may not have found had this not happened. EDF is very much a learning organisation and I’m sure we will implement what we’ve discovered in our future operations.”
Ellie has been with EDF providing low carbon electricity for more than seven years after joining on a graduate scheme after gaining a Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Liverpool. She says she thinks many people will be surprised by the number of jobs chemists do in operating power stations up and down the country.
“I don’t think many people are aware of what it takes to keep a power station running and the variety of roles required. We are very focussed on maintaining a constant and reliable supply of electricity – EDF is currently supplying around a quarter of the UK’s electricity, with the majority of this coming from our nuclear power stations. Nuclear power is a low carbon electricity source, so keeping these stations running minimises the use of coal and gas stations which emit high levels of CO2.
“My job and the job of everyone I work with is to first and foremost ensure our power stations are run safely. Second priority is to make sure they keep running, which is particularly important at the moment when we need good availability of key utilities.
“For me, my primary role is to make sure the boilers of our power stations are operated in an environment which does not increase the risk of corrosion and therefore ensure their safe operation. This is achieved by using very pure water and maintaining an elevated pH, which are both monitored by my chemistry colleagues at each of the power stations.
“During the pandemic, this evidently remains a priority, but we are running with fewer staff on site and there is a risk that supply of key chemicals used to maintain the correct environment could be impacted. To support the stations, my colleagues and I have been working to understand where it is safe to reduce chemical monitoring and dose levels, whilst ensuring operation of all chemistry related systems is not adversely affected. This work will help to reduce the workload of our colleagues at each of the power stations in these challenging times.”