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Getting to know you: An interview with Banks Renewables’ Alan Wells

Published on 6 Jul 2023

We’re proud of the work our team undertakes to support the UK’s drive to #NetZero through by generating #renewable electricity.

BUT what about the faces behind the name, we simply couldn’t do the things we do without the talent, commitment and dedication of our team. So, with that in mind we’d like to introduce you to one of those people – senior project manager for Banks Renewables Alan Wells. We asked Alan a few questions to find out more.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Dunfermline, just north of Edinburgh with my wife Christina and our eight dogs. My wife is a keen dog trainer so naturally we absolutely love dogs. Christina volunteers for a charity who rescues dogs from Cyprus, our current pack includes three from the rescue centre, four that we’ve had since they were puppies and one from Gambia, where Christina grew up. At last count, I think we have around 32 pets in total so as well as the dogs we also have guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and a quail.

I’m a keen cyclist, I love travelling (just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro) and renovating old classic cars keeps me busy outside of work.

Q: What is your role at The Banks Group

I’m a senior project manager (PM) in the renewables division. I’m directly responsible for several wind farm projects including Lethans, Lethans East, Mill Rig as well as a few solar and battery sites we’re considering.

The PM is responsible for setting the project strategy, driving the programme, making sure there is the right budget available and ensuring that projects deliver a healthy return on that investment. The advantage of working at Banks is that we have a brilliant team with fantastic engineers and planners to enable us to push the boundaries and try new things which we have shown time and time again over the years for example breaking our own record for achieving planning consent for the UK’s tallest turbines six times in a row.

As a PM I need to be a good problem solver, it involves keeping the board up to date, managing external contractors, landowners and councils to make sure that our projects deliver for everyone involved.

Q: What would people never guess you do as part of your job?

When I first started, I never thought I’d get any understanding of forestry. Now I feel like I’m an expert. I need to know about the age and yield of trees so we can understand how a wind farm will impact the wider forest. I know more about trees than I ever thought I would possibly want to know.

Q: What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

Not knowing what’s around the corner and what might change. I enjoy being a decision maker on projects and making an impact because of the projects that we’re all involved in delivering. Turning up to work makes me feel I’m making a difference to the UK’s energy security and net zero. That’s why I do this job because the role allows me to feel like I’m making a difference.

Q: What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

When I was younger, I bought a bike, named her Nora and cycled the entire length of Africa and South America. I cycled through 25 countries in Africa including Morocco, Western Sahara, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and many more. In South America, I travelled mainly through Argentina and Chile following the Andes to Bolivia and Ecuador. One of the few humbling constants was the kindness of strangers whom I could never fully thank and will never meet again. It was a simple life that gave me a wonderful and unique opportunity to see the world at a slow pace. My advice to anyone considering doing anything remotely similar is to just go. It feels scary to start, but it’s even scarier to stop!

It was only when I ran out of money that I decided to come home got a job and the rest is history.

Nowadays most of my cycling is around 40-50 miles with local clubs, café hopping taking in the beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer.

I’m also renovating a 50-year-old classic car, although this has been ongoing for some time now. The car is a 1970 Triumph, GT6 mark 2. It’s a coupe and a heap of rust that hasn’t left my garage for three years, while I’m slowly rebuilding it and putting it back together again. I hope to get more time over the summer to work on the car and hopefully take it out for a spin soon.

Also, earlier this year I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of mine to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at the third time of asking. The first time I attempted the climb was some 22 years ago but I couldn’t manage it on the first and second attempts due to the extreme altitude. But this year I did! It took six and a half days to climb to the summit and two days to climb back down. I also squeezed in some volunteering whilst I was in Tanzania. I visited a town called Kwizu in the Pare Mountains south of Kilimanjaro along the Tanzania/Kenya border. I visited the town during my first trip to Tanzania at the age of 17 when I was part of a team who repaired and refurbished four classrooms in the secondary school. Before travelling I reached out to the school headmaster and arranged a return visit to reconnect with the community.

On this visit, I organised a team of local builders to refurbish one of the school buildings which was built by the community but never fully finished. The building was a dormitory built for female students who had to travel a long way to school. Some of them experienced violence on their commute or pressure from family members to drop out of school. The building is now finished with new render and fresh paint as well as a new concrete path. It won’t change the world but I hope to help in other ways in the future.

Q: What are your favourite movies / TV shows?

We’ve just binged “YOU” on Netflix, makes you sick to your stomach but also so addictive at the same time. A film that I can sit and watch over and over is the original Independence Day it’s just so rubbish but amazing at the same time!

Q: Favourite music?

For me, music peaked in 2006 with bands like Foo Fighters, Faithless, Travis, Pearl Jam and Stereophonics. You just can’t beat those bands.

Q: Who are your heroes and why?

I’d have to say Michael Palin and David Attenborough. I grew up watching their TV shows on a tiny tv in the corner of the room and it really inspired me to see the world.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who and why?

I’d love to share travel stories with Michael Palin and I think he’d be quite funny at the same time. I’m sure he’d have me planning my next adventure too!

Find out more about the work of Alan and others at Banks Renewables.

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