Professor Alan Lowdon awarded OBE for pivotal role in developing offshore wind links with USA


Durham University Alumni, and Durham Energy Institute Advisory Board Chair and Professor in Practice, Alan Lowdon has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to UK and US offshore wind collaboration. Find out about Alan’s expertise and how he is supporting Durham University researchers and students through his roles at Durham Energy Institute.

Who is Alan Lowden?

Alan Lowden is one of the world’s leading tech industry specialists with almost two decades of expertise in the offshore renewables sector. He has been instrumental in establishing and developing relationships between British and American organisations for the progression of offshore wind innovation and business opportunities. Expertise can be transferred to the American offshore wind sector as it is a newly growing market.

Professor Alan Lowdon said:

“I am absolutely delighted and humbled to have been awarded an OBE for services to U.K.-US offshore wind collaboration. It’s been a 17-year journey for me, every minute of which has been a true pleasure…This Honour further stiffens my resolve to continue to bring the U.K. and US closer together under the auspice of offshore wind. It’s my personal mission!”

Establishing offshore wind links between UK and USA

Alan Lowdon is currently director of strategic development for the National Offshore Wind Institute in Massachusetts and NOF board director since 2015.

One of the pioneers of the offshore wind industry, Lowdon built on his understanding of the US utilities market developed from his time in the water industry when he became director of technology and innovation at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, Northumberland.

Establishing strategic relationships and a joint patent with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, he helped deliver the first offshore wind collaborations between the two countries’ national laboratories for offshore wind.

He was also part of the UK’s 2011 offshore wind mission to the US, which built links with the Department of Energy and highlighted the capabilities that were being developed in Britain to support the creation of a global renewable industry.

Lowdon was also involved in the due diligence of two early US offshore wind developments, Cape Wind off the of coast Massachusetts and Fishermen’s Energy off of the coast of New Jersey, while working for Mott MacDonald.

In 2012, having worked with the UK government to establish the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Lowdon took on the role of interim CEO, further strengthening the links with the US, which more recently involved the creation of an Innovate UK-backed scheme to encourage US/UK SME R&D collaboration.

Through his role as Green Port Hull part time Director of Research & Innovation he supported the development of the offshore wind ecosystem in Hull, facilitated Durham’s involvement in Project Aura and further supported connections with the USA. Alan also spent 8 years as a non-executive director at the Port of Blyth during which it established itself as a leading UK offshore energy port.

Professor in Practice at Durham University

Alan is a Durham University Alumnus who has had a key role in Durham Energy Institute (DEI), Durham University’s hub for energy research activities, since its inception on 2009 and has been chair of DEI Advisory Board since 2015.

In 2020 he was appointed Professor in Practice at DEI to increase our networks, enhance our research and industry impact, and provide support and mentoring to our students and researchers.

Professors in Practice is an initiative of Durham University to recognise the expertise, experience and commitment of senior members of the practitioner community who bring public distinction and practical insight, in order to enhance the educational opportunities of students at Durham University. Professors in Practice also provide unique connections for Durham University’s research and scholarship to increase its engagement with policy and practice.

Professor Alan Lowdon gives his thanks to the organisations that have supported him:

“Thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey, particularly those from NAREC, NREL, ORE Catapult, InnovateUK, Scottish Enterprise, Shell, Mott MacDonald, SKM/Jacobs, US DOE, LEEDCo, and the UK Consulates in Boston, New York, Chicago, as well as the U.K. Embassy in DC. A huge shout-out to my current supporters at the National Offshore Wind Institute, Massachusetts and Durham University Energy Institute, U.K. where I have been involved since its inception in 2009. I am indebted to you all.”

Colleagues and experts congratulate Professor Lowdon following his OBE:

Consul General Peter Abbott from British Consulate-General Boston said: “I am absolutely delighted that Alan has received this honour… his ability to connect local communities and see partnerships grow around workforce development and diversity in the clean energy workforce has been invaluable.”

Professor Jon Gluyas, Director of Durham Energy Institute said: “The connectivity and leadership he has provided as Chair of our Advisory Board has been invaluable, helping us to translate outstanding research into the industrial world.”

Featured image: Oyvind Holmstad with licence 

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