An introduction to…Stephen Doran, Lead Consultant

Let us introduce to you one of our Lead Consultants in the US team, Stephen Doran. Stephen has recently celebrated two years at OCA and tells us a bit more about his background, specialism and interests in the offshore wind industry.

My background is in offshore electrical systems engineering and management. I studied for a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and prior to joining OCA two years ago, I gained 10 years’ experience in the offshore energy sector focused in subsea and vessel electrical systems EPCI. I chose a career offshore because of the dynamic work environment and the options of traveling the world and working with different cultures. Before joining the offshore wind industry, I was primarily working in the offshore oil and gas sector, and occasionally doing commercial diving on the side. During my career with oil and gas, I remember thinking how good it would be to have an offshore industry in New England and then along came Vineyard Wind 1 and then OCA and the rest was history!

The decision to join OCA was driven by the fact that consultancy offers the flexibility of working on different offshore wind projects and developers and executing on different systems and activities. As OCA was one of the first offshore wind consultancies locally in the United States, they offered the opportunity to break into the industry and work with a team of individuals that have experience with European offshore wind projects. Specifically, I am currently assisting with the management of offshore cables EPCI for a client. But overall, my expertise is primarily in systems engineering and contractor/interface management. In addition, I manage a small group, of talented young individuals to help OCA grow both in the US and elsewhere.

Whilst working for OCA I have utilized my expertise and knowledge base on several offshore wind assets and activities primarily with subsea cables. My approach is generally processes oriented with the understanding that client needs, and requirements come first. The phrase “projects fail at the interfaces” is a project element that I believe and take seriously as empirically from my experiences, misidentified engineering requirements and undefined scopes of work tend to fall through the cracks at the interface level and reduce project key performance parameters (KPP).

There is a lot to learn in this industry, which is what I love most about it. But if I were to choose two new areas to learn more about, it would be offshore High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter stations and offshore wind financing and economics. The HVDC is just overall interesting to me from a technical standpoint, as it removes reactive power transmission constraints when compared to HVAC and is just a massive system. Financing and economics are areas that I feel all stakeholders should have a basic understanding of as these projects are capital intensive and there must be a return on investment for developers to take on the risk. OCA’s commitment to continuous improvement, learning and development has offered me a good crash course in offshore wind and working with other knowledgeable colleagues has helped to close the knowledge gaps.

I find the overall build-out and integration of an entirely new industry in the US the most exciting element for me. More specifically, I’m intrigued by the offshore scopes of work as this requires complex planning and a new way of ‘thinking’ given the dynamic nature of offshore construction.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working on a ground-breaking project in the US and I’m looking forward to seeing the project through commissioning. Offshore wind is an exciting new industry that will allow people to learn an entire new area of renewable energy production and offshore operations. Anyone wanting to join the offshore wind industry should expect a steep learning curve, but there’s always an overlap with your previous skill sets that can be exploited and where you can truly offer value to the project.