Our Team

Our Board

James Astor

Non-Executive Chairman

James has responsibilities for corporate governance and represents the interests of all stakeholders. He supports the executive team in strategy development and fundraising. James has spent over a decade raising and investing money in renewable energy assets in the UK for private equity investors and sits on the Organics Steering Group of the Renewable Energy Association. James is also executive chairman of Regen Holdings, a TPG portfolio company, operating in the UK waste recycling and renewable energy industries.

Sam Roch-Perks

Co-Founder and Managing Director

Sam is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Simply Blue Energy. A civil engineer by profession, he established Swirish International with his Swedish wife. This group of companies has interests in real estate in Western Sweden and Eastern Germany along with investments in the Food and Beverage, Agriculture and Renewables sectors. Sam has founded and developed a number of companies in the EU, Asia and the US including Delaney’s Irish pub chain in Asia and Swirish Property AB in Sweden.

Hugh Kelly

Co-Founder and Commercial Director

Hugh is presently acting Project Managing Director of Blue Gem Wind, the joint venture between Simply Blue Energy and Total. The JV is developing a floating offshore wind portfolio in the Celtic Sea which includes the 96MW Erebus project. Having originally qualified and practiced as a civil engineer in Ireland, the UK, France and Canada, he established and developed businesses in the EU, Middle East and Australasia, in manufacturing, distribution and IT. He is a former President of the Irish Exporters Association and holds a number of Non-Executive Director roles.

Christoph Harwood

Director of Policy and Strategy, Managing Director of Aquaculture

Christoph Harwood is Director of Policy and Strategy, the Managing Director of Simply Blue Aquaculture and also a Director for Loch Long Salmon, the salmon farming joint venture.  He leads on the development of the company’s business strategy and support the energy companies with their engagement with national and local stakeholders.  Prior to joining the group in 2018, Christoph spent 10+ years in the world of environmental finance and marine energy and is a founder member of the Marine Energy Council.  He has a degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics from Oxford University and lives in Edinburgh.

Don Brockie, Simply Blue Energy

Don Brockie

Finance Director

Don Brockie, the Group’s Finance Director, works on the commercial and financial development of the company and supports capital fundraising. He is responsible for establishing sound internal processes and structures to meet corporate governance requirements. A Chartered Accountant, Don has vast experience in financial roles both in Ireland and internationally. He spent 10 years at CFO level with GSK and 13 years as Group Finance Director with the Bowen Group – an Irish group of companies primarily involved in construction and property development following his training in EY.

Anthony Gurnee

Non-Executive Director

Anthony Gurnee is a non-executive Director of the Group and has a long track record as a senior executive in the shipping industry. Founder, CEO, President and Director of Ardmore Shipping Corporation he has built the company to a fleet of 27 high quality, modern products and chemical tankers with a further 9 vessels on order. His previous experience includes acting as CEO of Industrial Shipping Enterprises Inc, COO of MTM Group and CFO of Teekay Shipping Corporation. Anthony oversaw a public floatation on the New York Stock Exchange in 2013.

Our Senior Management Team

Val Cummins

Associate

Val Cummins is a senior lecturer and principal investigator in UCC, where she has built a critical mass of expertise in offshore wind. She has over 20 years of expertise in the fields of ocean innovation and sustainability at the national and international levels. She has a considerable track record in fund raising, and leading complex projects with high levels of stakeholder engagement. She is currently contributing as an associate to Simply Blue Energy Ireland.

Des Quigley

Financial Controller

Des Quigley is Managing Director of Assetbase, a property sourcing and management company. He is a qualified auctioneer and valuer, and a full member of The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (MIPAV). Des has 16 years management experience in the investment property market, having founded his business in 2003. To date, this has predominantly been in the U.K., German and Swedish markets. Prior to this, Des was manager in a number of national businesses involved in agri-business, waste management and oil distribution.

Kevin Banister

Chief Development Officer (International)

Kevin is responsible for leading Simply Blue Energy’s international expansion outside of Ireland and the UK. Prior to joining Simply Blue Energy, he spent almost 10 years with Principle Power, the owner of the WindFloat floating wind technology.  As a pioneer in the industry, he led the company’s business and project development activities around the world, which included engagement with utilities, developers, government officials, stakeholders and policy makers and resulted in a significant pipeline of projects for the technology.  Based in Portland, Oregon, USA, Kevin has a long history of energy project development and has been an appointment in the US on state energy task forces, and today sits on various boards and committees. Kevin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and holds an MSc in Economic Development from the London School of Economics.

Our Team

Julius Besterman

Head of Engineering

Julius leads the engineering of technically and commercially robust marine energy projects for Simply Blue Energy. Julius developed the Blue Gem Wind project portfolio, the basis of the joint venture between Simply Blue Energy and Total. Currently, as Technical Manager for Blue Gem Wind, Julius is responsible for the engineering programme for these exciting pre-commercial floating offshore wind projects. Julius is a Mechanical Engineer with two decades experience dedicated to the renewable energy sector, having delivered a broad range of technically challenging schemes. Julius has a strong foundation of project and safety management and hands-on experience in both onshore and offshore renewable energy technologies.

Sam Bouma

Energy Resource Modeller

Sam works on modelling wind and wave energy resources – identifying and assessing promising sites for offshore wind and wave energy. Sam studied Theoretical Physics/Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin, before doing a H.Dip and Grad. Dip in Economics. Sam has done fundamental research in Physics, and has experience in physical and economic modelling.

Ruairí Hand

Projects and Communications Officer

Ruairí provides projects support to the Ireland team through the handling of reports while implementing community and stakeholder engagement strategies and promoting the company’s image across all media. He studied Civil Engineering in UCD before spending 12 years as an engineer and construction project manager on large civil and structural projects in Ireland and Canada. A lifelong passion for the marine environment led him more recently to UCC and a master’s degree in Marine Biology with his current role reflecting his diverse background.

Ben Huskinson

Head of Environmental

Ben is a Chartered Environmental Scientist and also holds a diploma in Planning and Environmental Law from the Law Society of Ireland. With over 12 years’ experience in environmental management, he specialises in the management, coordination and production of Environmental Impact Assessments, Habitats Directive Assessments and other planning and environmental reports. His experience extends to both onshore and offshore renewable energy projects, as well as projects in the transportation and utilities sector.

David Jones

Stakeholder Director (UK)

David is currently focussed on stakeholder engagement for the Blue Gem Wind portfolio of floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. This involves working with all interested parties, from supply chain companies, ports, government, and coastal communities. Before joining Simply Blue Energy, David was the CEO of Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, a multi-award-winning company, voted the “most sustainable social enterprise” in Wales. He has worked specifically on marine energy for over 12 years, developing Marine Energy Wales from inception. He has also worked directly for Government Ministers and shaped supportive marine energy policy in Wales.

Clodagh McGrath

Project Manager

Clodagh is Project Manager for the Emerald Offshore Floating Wind Project, which includes the management of proposals, projects and associated resources, budgets & forecasting for the project. She is also Simply Blue Energy’s representative on range of Government and Industry Committees. Clodagh has 25 years’ experience in the environmental sector with specific expertise in the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), consent applications and stakeholder engagement for offshore wind and tidal development in Ireland, UK and Canada and onshore wind and solar projects in Ireland, Canada and Australia. She is a qualified and experienced environmental trainer and has presented at a range of environmental conferences and seminars. Clodagh has a BSc in Applied Ecology and an MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment.

Keith O’Sullivan

Project Manager

Keith is Engineering Manager for Simply Blue Energy’s Irish project portfolio, overseeing the Engineering function, as well as Project Manager for our novel floating wind and wave energy technology co-location project. Keith has over 10 years of global experience developing offshore renewable energy technology and projects. He is a Chartered Engineer and has a PhD focussed on offshore wind and wave energy technologies. Keith has led offshore engineering projects with a diverse range of industrial companies, including prototype Engineering, Procurement and Construction projects in excess of USD$12m in value as well as complex product development and qualification programs in the renewable energy sector.

Mark Shotter

Project Manager & HSEQ Manager

Mark joined Simply Blue Aquaculture (SBA) in January 2019 as Project Manager responsible for delivering a number of new salmon farm projects across Scotland. He is currently managing the development of the first inshore, semi-closed salmon farm in Scotland which will bring innovative engineering, farming and energy technologies together to provide a new and sustainable approach to salmon farming. Mark is also the HSE Manager for Simply Blue Energy and provides support across all our projects. With a background in biological sciences, energy and the marine environment, Mark has managed engineering operations around the world in often challenging environments since leaving the Royal Navy in 2013.

Alfie Wisdom

Project Engineer

Alfie is a Mechanical Engineer with a specialisation in sustainable energy systems, maritime transport emissions and renewable exposure in energy markets. His experience working with the offshore industry includes operations support for umbilical, riser and flowline systems, hardware, and FPSOs, as well as engineering analysis for offshore wind farm inter-array cables, export cables and cable routing.

Ryan Hastings

GIS Technician

Ryan is a GIS specialist, establishing and overseeing GIS as an operating system and applying GIS as a tool for various projects including site analysis and constraint mapping. He provides the team with logistical support, data collection and storage along with archiving metadata. Ryan obtained a first-class honours in Outdoor Education in GMIT. He was subsequently awarded the Quercus scholarship and obtained a first-class honours in UCC in MSc in Applied Coastal and Marine Management. As a GIS researcher in MaREI he worked on the development of a pre-commercial floating wind project.

Louise Quigley

Office Administrator

Louise is an Administrator with Simply Blue Energy Ltd. Having gained a B.Sc (Hons) Computer Information Systems, she worked in Corel Corporation for a number of years. Since then, she has worked with Burex Ltd. and in the I.T. Support Department of the HSE.

Secondees

Adrian de Andres

Project Director

Adrian is a civil engineer with extensive economics, finance and commercial experience having worked in academia, project development and consultancy sectors. Adrian has been involved in offshore renewables since 2010 and has worked across wave, tidal and floating and fixed wind both in technology development and project development capacities.  Adrian holds a PhD in techno-economic assessment of wave energy converters and has assessed and advised more than 10 wave and tidal technologies. More recently he has been working in the development of floating and fixed wind projects across Scotland, England, Ireland and Japan.  Adrian has managed several innovation projects related to wave, tidal and floating wind, up to £2m and has managed multiple organisations and co-ordinated inputs from multiple people. Adrian was recognized in 2016 with the Young Professionals Green Energy Award for his contribution to the Scottish renewables industry.

Nicola Lacey

Environmental Scientist

Dr Nichola Lacey is an Environmental Consents Manager at Simply Blue Energy. Nichola has a benthic ecology specialism and broad experience in marine ecology with 8 years working in the offshore environment. Nichola is responsible for the design and delivery of consenting strategies for offshore wind projects through all stages of the consenting process. Nichola’s focus is on the design and delivery of consenting strategies, building relationships with internal and external stakeholders, the environmental impacts of offshore energy developments and identifying appropriate mitigation measures.  Nichola has a background in environmental consultancy, leading EIA and related scopes for marine projects within Xodus Group. Nichola’s experience includes working as an offshore ecology technical lead for Round 4/ Scotwind site selection and scoping projects, and leading offshore oil and gas EIAs for multiple clients.

Graham Steward

Project Engineer

Graham is the Project and Engineering Manager for the Salamander Project. His responsibilities include the day to day running of the project, project financials, team management, reporting and ensuring project milestones are achieved. In addition, he is responsible for the technical oversight of the project and leads the engineering team. While being a chartered civil engineer (CEng) and member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), he has extensive experience in offshore engineering after spending several years working in the North Sea O&G industry. Graham is currently seconded to Simply Blue Energy from Xodus Group where he is a Lead Renewables Consultant. At Xodus, he specialises in renewables project development and sits in the energy transition team.

Partners

Stewart Hawthorn

Director, Loch Long Salmon

Stewart started working on the Loch Long Salmon project in early 2018. He is a founding partner of Trimara Services UK Ltd, an aquaculture sales and services company based in Scotland.  He has more than 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in the global salmon farming industry in Scotland, Canada and New Zealand.  Stewart was awarded an MSc with distinction from the internationally recognised Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University.  He was the Managing Director for Grieg Seafood in BC, Canada; General Manager of Aquaculture for New Zealand King Salmon and Farming Director for Dawnfresh Seafood, Scotland largest trout farming company.