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Net Zero Hero Nassif Berrabah

EDF UK R&D Net Zero Heroes: Nassif Berrabah

By EDF | Posted May 30, 2023

Climate change is one of the most significant challenges we face but we can all make a difference. In the summer of 2020, EDF launched its company purpose ‘Helping Britain achieve Net Zero’ and CEO Simone Rossi set out how all employees can play their part.

We recognise that the work we do makes us all Net Zero Heroes and this is particularly true in R&D.

O&M R&D Lead Research Engineer Nassif Berrabah is one of our Net Zero Heroes, find out how his job in R&D is helping Britain achieve Net Zero.

How long have you worked at EDF, and how long in R&D?

At EDF, more than 8 years now. I have joined the Group’s R&D in 2014 as a PhD student working on non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques to assess electrical cables ageing in the French fleet of Nuclear Power Station in the context of lifetime extension. After completion of my doctorate in 2017, I worked as a Research Engineer in the Electrical Equipment Lab (LME: Laboratoire des Matériels Electriques in French) in EDF R&D France. I became an Expert on electric cable diagnostic, conducted several studies involving model development, numerical simulations, data analytics, and experimental trials both in labs and in-situ (on the distribution network and on generation assets). My research aimed at informing asset management strategies to maximize the distribution network (and generation asset) performance at minimal cost. I was also involved in CIGRE Working Groups and designed and led an intra-company training on cable diagnostics which was attended by O&M technician. After 4 years in this role, I joined EDF UK R&D in November 2021 in an expat assignment.

What is your role within EDF UK R&D and how does it help Britain achieve Net Zero?

As a work package manager for offshore wind O&M, I help EDF Renewables develop and deploy state-of-the-art methods and technologies for the maintenance of the wind farms they operate or will operate in the future. There are many unsolved challenges regarding offshore O&M, specially related to maintenance of floating turbines, and R&D is here to help the business to develop and test solutions. I make sure we take advantage of the most modern techniques coming from different fields. This contributes to make zero emission electricity possible in more sites, makes it more reliable and more affordable. My role also involves working across several teams within the company and connecting them to the research community.

What do you like best about working in EDF UK R&D?

First of all, I appreciate the very high level of expertise we can find within our R&D in almost any field of science and engineering. It makes possible to address a variety of challenges with the best approaches. I also enjoy how all my colleagues are genuinely enthusiastic about what they do and painstakingly doing it. People communicate their passion about science, energy and the environment. Then, as an expatriate employee, I really value the opportunity to work internationally. By moving to the UK, in the workplace, I discovered a different work culture and a different approach to collaboration, innovation, and management. I consider it a wealth. Now, I am happy to be an ambassador of EDF France in my team when colleagues find it difficult to understand the organisations or processes in place on the other side of the English Channel. I enjoy my immersion in the UK and I believe it to be an asset for EDF Group to have such well-established teams present here. It is particularly true when, like it is my case, you are working in offshore wind generation, as the country is the global leader in this industry and has one of the most ambitious roadmaps in the world. On a more personal level, living abroad with my family has been so far a great experience to broaden our horizons and experience something different. Finally, I value working for an employer that strives to create a positive working environment for its employees and that cares about preserving the planet.

What’s your favourite of the projects you’ve worked on in the last year?

I am supporting an EngD student, Demitri Moros, whose research focuses on the development of novel approaches to predictive maintenance. His work aims at combining component failure predictions and schedule optimisation under uncertainty. We make use of operational data accumulated after years of offshore windfarm operation, and we analyse it to understand how the turbines are maintained and how much time and money it costs to do it. Then, we look at more data from tens of sensors installed on each turbine to detect patterns of upcoming failures. The failure predictions are then fed into an O&M planning model, informed by the former data analysis, that will support O&M decision making. This is an exciting project because it calls for sharp skills in mathematics and programming while at the same time addressing a tough industrial problem with the potential of significant OPEX reduction in offshore wind. I enjoy supervising this research because it allows me to share my little knowledge and expertise and pass it on to colleagues that are starting their career in the field and because I strongly believe that this project will produce innovative results.