Dr R Camilla Thomson

Chancellor's Fellow

Engineering Discipline: 

  • Mechanical Engineering

Research Institute: 

  • Energy Systems

Research Theme: 

  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Energy Policy, Economics and Innovation
  • Offshore Renewable Energy
  • Power Systems

Biography: 

Dr Camilla Thomson is a Chancellor's Fellow in Energy. Her primary research interest is in better understanding the consequential environmental impacts of changes to energy systems (including interventions at the generation, transmission and demand levels) with a view to informing policy, investment and design. Her research includes environmental impact analysis and carbon footprinting methodologies, the carbon emissions and offsets of power generation, the flow of carbon through electricity networks, and the impacts of renewable generation on network operation. Specific techniques include Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), marginal carbon analysis and renewable resource assessment.

Her work to date has focussed on wind and marine power, and she is currently working with ClimateXchange to develop a detailed solar power dataset for use in Scottish Government energy models. She is also involved in the Energy Revolution Research Consortium (EnergyREV) funded by the EPSRC, as part of the team developing a multi-criteria evaluation of local energy demonstrator projects funded by the Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) programme. Her PhD research, entitled "Carbon and Energy Payback of Variable Renewable Generation", examined both sides of the payback calculation, focussing particularly on carbon. The first half examined the reliability of estimates of embodied carbon of renewable generators and involved a detailed life cycle assessment of the Pelamis Wave Energy converter; the second half identified the marginal carbon emissions displacement of wind power on the electricity network in Great Britain. 

Prior to commencing academic research, Camilla worked for Arup as an electrical building services engineer. She had responsibility for designing all aspects of the electrical installations in projects in the UK, USA, Russia, China and the Middle East across a variety of building sectors including education, commercial, hotels, residential, transportation and tall towers. Her particular interests included sustainability and energy efficient design, especially designing for optimum daylighting.

Camilla is a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Life Cycle Assessment Certified Professional with the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment. 

Academic Qualifications: 

  • PhD Carbon and Energy Payback of Variable Renewable Generation, University of Edinburgh, 2014
  • MEng(Hons) Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, University of Edinburgh, 2004

Professional Qualifications and Memberships: 

  • Life Cycle Assessment Certified Professional, LCACP
  • Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, MIET

Teaching: 

  • MSc Sustainable Energy Systems - Dissertation supervision
  • MSc Electrical Power Engineering - Dissertation supervision
  • Sustainable Energy: Principles & Processes 3 and Sustainable Energy Contexts (MSc) - Guest lecturer on LCA

Research Interests: 

  • Consequential environmental impacts of changes to energy systems
  • Life cycle environmental impacts of energy technologies
  • Grid integration of renewable generation
  • Carbon emissions offset of renewable generation
  • Optimisation of energy systems for minimum cost and carbon
  • Renewable resource assessment

Specialities: 

  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and carbon footprinting of products, in particular renewable generators
  • Marginal analysis of power systems data
  • Renewable resource assessment
  • Extensive experience in designing schools and developing lighting schemes, also including daylighting analysis for building physics studies.