James Thomas
Energy scientist & web developer

Energy science


Driving the development of energy policy with transparent, reproducible & accessible data analysis

I am passionate about driving decision-making with transparent and reproducible analysis of data and evidence, and making the findings of this analysis accessible to both technical and non-technical people.

I currently work as a Senior Energy Consultant and Team Leader in a low carbon energy and hydrogen consultancy team. I have an MSci in Physics (Natural Sciences) and am a Member of the Institute of Physics.

My current role involves collecting, analysing, auditing & presenting data in energy & safety trials. A typical workflow includes:

  • remote data acquisition (JSON)
  • management of data-stores and databases (PostgreSQL, MySQL)
  • processing of data (Python, Numpy, Pandas)
  • visualisation (Python, Matplotlib)
  • dashboard generation (Nginx, Gunicorn, Flask, Docker)

My interests include: uncertainty of measurement, and improving business processes and efficiency through automated processes.

Experience


Working with data

Biomass Boiler Field Trial
2016–2018

I was project manager for Phase II of the BEIS Biomass Boiler Field Trial, studying 67 domestic and non-domestic biomass heating systems. I am lead author on the report, and led the detailed analysis of the performance of the systems, including the effects of thermal stores and controls.

I designed and implemented a bespoke algorithm to calulate the efficiency of the appliances. The inputs to the algorithm were various data points at one-minute intervals, for the duration of the trial (12–24 months). The algorithm determined the operating mode of the appliances each minute and then selected an appropriate set of equations to calculate their efficiency. The algorithm was implemented in Python, Numpy and Pandas, and accelerated with Numba; graphs were generated using Matplotlib.

I made intervention visits at domestic and commercial sites (space and water heating), and carried out performance testing at a site with several kilometres of underground heat main and many plant rooms.

I chaired two stakeholder engagement days. The attendees were from industry, trade bodies, academia and government. Our role was to present interim findings and gather feedback from those present. As chair, I ensured all the attendees were able to comment on the findings, but also had to clearly define the boundaries and time limits around discussions, to ensure all attendees were fairly represented. I also then led an analysis of the feedback gathered to determine if the project plan should be altered as a result.

Hydrogen Safety Trials
2017–2018

I designed the data collection and processing system for a series of hydrogen feasibility & practical safety trials in various domestic settings. I also led on several phases of the field work, data analysis and reporting.

My data processing system, written using Numpy, Scipy & Pandas, took data exports from high-speed voltage recorders (10,000 Hz) and applied various filters (low-pass, custom Fourier, median filters, etc.), before identifying and quantifying sudden changes; graphs were generated using Matplotlib.

Additional graphs of low-speed incoming data were displayed on a low-powered laptop using a customisable Excel dashboard.

Heat Pump Field Trial
2013

I was a data analyst in the EST Heat Pump Field Trial (2013) and more recently led the analysis and authored reports in two heat pump field trials for manufacturers. Processing was carried out in both Excel with Visual Basic, and in Python using Pandas.

A key objective was independently assessing the energy efficiency of the product at different system boundaries (according to the SEPEMO methodology).

Utility Meter Data
2011–2012

I led the analysis and co-authored the report on a review of gas and electricity data from over 1,000 domestic properties in a trial of utility meters for a large utility company.

Key achievements included quantifying the energy performance of the properties and identifying those at which energy saving measures could be made, ranging from controls adjustments, to retrofit of newer heating appliances and improved insulation.

QA and review

EU ETS

I am a Lead Verifier in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme Phase 3 (2015–present), undertaking audit visits to industrial sites and verifying the application of mass-balance measurement systems for carbon emissions. Audits are either carried out as a sole Lead Verifier, or leading a team of Verifiers.

Other schemes

I am a member of an internal technical review panel for applications to the Mayor of London Cleaner Heat Cashback scheme (2018–present).

In 2016, I led a team of independent QA reviewers for the BEIS field trial of non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive ground-source and water-source heat pumps.

I am also a member of an internal audit team, as a part of a testing laboratory accreditation under ISO 17025.

Expert advice

Misc

In 2015, I managed an expert investigation into boiler performance for a local authority, visiting 15 sites that were operated by a mix of personnel with differing technical knowledge, from caretaker to building services manager. Stakeholder appetite to the investigation varied and during the short site visits I had to quickly build a level of trust with them to enable sufficient data to be collected and technical drawings of the heating system to be made. I then had to build on knowledge from two technical experts and summarise the themes of performance and health & safety issues observed at the sites in a report for the client.

Also in 2015, I worked in a consortium of experts providing technical advice to Ofgem around the use of blended virgin and waste biomass fuels. Regular telephone conferences and exchange of comments on SharePoint were used to ensure all experts agreed with the technical output of the final report.

I performed practical and paper-based reviews of the performance of energy saving devices for manufacturers (2010–2012). These included advanced heating controls, central heating system debris filters, and water restriction devices, including one for the Carbon Emissions Reduction Scheme (CERT).

Web development


In my spare time I develop websites with Python/Django for local non-profits and sports associations, hosted on an Ubuntu/Docker stack.

My aim is to facilitate effective communication with these groups and their members or customers.

This work includes:

  • Focusing on non-profit local and regional sport governing bodies
  • Website hosting, maintenance and administration
  • Domain name and DNS management
  • Linux server management
  • Django & Wagtail (Python) development
  • Drupal (PHP) module/theme development and hosting
  • Database (MySQL/MariaDB) management

Contact me


Please send me a message via LinkedIn: