Director of UK National Agency for Geothermal Energy

Updated: about 1 month ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Director of UK National Agency for Geothermal Energy (
Job Number:
Durham Energy Institute
SMT1: - £68,893 - £84,402 per annum
Open-Ended/Permanent - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Working Arrangements: Hybrid Working Optional
Closing Date
: 11-May-2023, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference in people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national, and regional communities that we work with and serve. It is expected that all staff within the University:

Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training, and coaching.

Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating a commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding center of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  

Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here

The Role

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) at Durham University seeks to appoint a talented individual to the role of Director for the new National Agency for Geothermal Energy Innovation. This Agency will be a first for the UK.  Never before has the UK had such an entity, outputs from which will help ensure energy security, sustainability and affordability for the whole nation.

The Director will be responsible for all aspects of establishing this new Agency, developing and growing its funding, staff, work programme, partnerships and engagement to create a world-leading Agency for geothermal energy innovation.

The establishment of this new Agency has been made possible by a donation from the Reece Foundation matched by funding from Durham University. 

The Director will lead the creation of a UK national Agency in the understanding and development of geothermal energy as applied to the UK and in particular moving activity from research into deployment.  This will require the successful candidate to collate and aggregate research occurring in academic institutions, commercial activity occurring in industry and the policy framework developing in national and local government to enable the UK to become a fast adopter and ultimately international leader in using geothermal energy and non-petroleum geoenergy in general to deliver a net zero future.

The Director will initially focus on developing external partnerships, setting strategic direction and priorities, identifying sustainable funding opportunities and financing options.  A key part of the Director’s role will be to generate additional funding to grow and develop the Agency and its staff.  The Director will have responsibility for a growing team and a growing programme of work, with the following milestones envisaged:

End Year 1 (Year 1 commencing when Director begins in post):

  • Agency established with Director in post, focussing on developing external partnerships, setting strategic direction and priorities, identifying sustainable funding opportunities and financing options
  • Funding delivered and Chief Operating Officer appointed, primary focus on operationalising the strategic plan, designing and initiating core work programmes, managing staff and secondees and financial planning
  • Establish the governance structure for the Agency and define its relationship with Durham University, other universities, Shift Geothermal (a not for profit JV established by Durham University with industry to promote geothermal energy development), national and local government, and appoint and advisory board
  • Business case for Agency developed to show scope and reach of the Agency's activities, associated funding needs and sources and routes to market for developed technologies
  • Create the commentary for engagement with society, schools, community groups, industry, local and national government
  • UK geothermal resource atlas community completed. This will identify and quantify the geothermal resource available in the onshore UK at community scale and in the offshore UK on a cluster basis using existing infrastructure (petroleum, offshore wind).
  • Publication of policy document on resource, exploitation, regulation framework and commercial architectures that will enable sustainable development of geothermal for the UK. This would form a white paper for UK government (the UK government is already seeking such a paper to follow on from the mine-water heating white paper produced by the North East LEP in 2021).

In years 2, 3 and beyond the Director will continue to build the Agency with newly acquired funding, continue to develop community and societal engagement, identify and access sustainable funding schemes and firmly establish the role of geothermal energy within the UK's energy transition programme and beyond. This will include: 

  • Leading at a national level on policy and regulation in geothermal energy in association with government departments such as the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
  • Organising and executing activities designed to bring together UK universities that have expressed support and a desire to participate in the national Agency
  • Leading multi-node research programmes within the Agency
  • Designing and building executive and CPD training programmes on geothermal energy
  • Becoming a key part of management within DEI as a whole
  • Demonstrating leadership in research and geothermal technology national and internationally
  • Serving on national or international research bodies or trade associations on geothermal energy 

We welcome applications from those with a deep and broad interest in geothermal energy and associated non-fossil fuel geoenergy. 

The successful candidate will have managerial and project leadership experience, including being able to construct and execute business plans, and will be able to demonstrate delivery of nationally significant past projects.  They will also be experienced in driving change both within their employer’s organisation and beyond at a regional or national level.

Applicants must demonstrate research capabilities together with a deep knowledge of regulatory, operational and commercial aspects in the field of Geothermal Energy with the ability to engage effectively with government, industry, local councils and all stakeholders in the emerging UK geothermal market.  The applicant must also fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University.

This post offers an exciting opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of geothermal energy in the UK and beyond as well as lead and/or drive internationally excellent research, innovation and external engagement while allowing you unrivalled opportunities to progress and embed your career in an exciting and progressive university.

The Context

Decarbonising energy is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.  Geothermal energy has substantial unrealised potential in the UK to underpin energy security, massively reduce GHG emissions associated with domestic and other heating, and bring communities together around a shared, sustainable, ultra-low-carbon energy source. 

Durham University’s Durham Energy Institute (DEI) works to ensure sustainable and resilient low-carbon energy systems can be developed which meet the needs of different contexts and ensure fair access for everyone.

The DEI has built a considerable portfolio of applied research on geothermal energy over the past decade or so.  This has embraced both high and low enthalpy systems to supply heat or heat and power as well as providing UK national resource assessments.  Work was also undertaken to demonstrate how geothermal energy can be used to partially decarbonise oil and gas operations as well as upcycle end-of-life petroleum assets for zero-carbon heat supply, including the creation of Shift Geothermal, a not for profit company to develop solutions for petroleum decarbonisation. 

At a national level, DEI has been pre-eminent in the formation of an earlier pan-UK research body, BritGeothermal, which was able to raise the profile of geothermal energy in the UK and influence UK government policy on the subject.  DEI now plays a pivotal role in the current UK’s BEIS task force on geothermal energy and is leading a large group of universities to act collectively on geothermal energy systems deployment.

More about the Durham Energy Institute

Durham Energy Institute delivers understanding, leadership and solutions for energy decarbonisation and the transition to net-zero.  Our work helps to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations.  In particular, SDG Goals: 7 for Affordable and Clean Energy; 9 for Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; 11 for Sustainable Cities and Communities; 13 on Climate Action, and 17 on Partnerships for the Goals.

A key strength of DEI is the world-leading researchers we engage with from science, social science and humanities departments across Durham University to build multidisciplinary teams, as evidenced by the National Agency for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), The Customer Led Network Revolution (CLNR), The North East Agency for Energy Materials (NECEM) and our Agencys of Doctoral Training (CDTs).

For further information on research and external engagement activities in Durham Energy Institute please visit:

Further information about the role and the responsibilities can be found below. 

Working at Durham  

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits:  
•    30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.   
•    The University closes between Christmas and New Year.  
•    We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into this University Superannuation Scheme (USS) which the University will add contributions of 21.4%.  
•    No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have ample parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies. 
•    There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities.  
•    Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme. 
•    On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays. 
•    Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers). 
•    The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community 
•    Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions.  
•    A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.  
•    If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas. 

Durham University is committed to equality diversity, inclusion, and values 

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI. 
We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.  

Typical Role Requirements 

Core Responsibilities 
•    Provide professional and strategic leadership for the entire Agency, including accountability for the development and delivery of business plans and outputs.
•    Develop, lead and be responsible for the Agency's direction, strategy and objectives.  
•    Lead and be responsible for the the Agency's strategic planning and influence the development of its goals.
•    Recruit, lead, direct and manage the interrelationship of a team of highly qualified professionals across the Agency.
•    Review and address the Agency's performance each year and drive improvements over the longer-term.
•    Lead through appropriate consultation or negotiations, developments and change across the Agency and its partnerships, to tackle major new issues and situations.  
•    Utilise problem solving skills to implement robust solutions to any issues across the Agency and its partnerships.
•    Develop workforce plans and identify talent priorities to ensure the recruitment and retention of highly competent and professional staff.
•    Lead or contribute to internal and external business meetings, working groups and committees across the Agency, University and beyond, nationally and internationally, to influence governance, policy and standards for the Agency.
•    Accountable for budget for the entire Agency. 
•    Influence and shape the available resources as appropriate to meet the current and future needs of the Agency and the University.
•    Deputise for more senior manager where required

Analysis and Reporting

•    Member of the DEI Executive team, reporting to the DEI Director. 
•    Explore ways of improving efficiency and effectiveness and promote improvements in value for money.
•    Monitor performance over time across the Agency and identify areas of improvement.
•    Maintain a continuous review of quality and of external benchmarks to promote the best possible service.

Planning and Organising 
•    Develop and lead the implementation of strategies and plans for the whole Agency.
•    Lead the development and delivery of the Agency's and DEI's strategy and policy.
•    Lead projects and initiatives which have significant resources and impact across the Agency.
•    Forward plan over a significant timescale (three years in the first instance, to get the Agency established), including establishing the Agency's priorities.
•    Initiate and develop research programmes designed to improve the uptake of geothermal energy and solve extant operational and commercial issues.  
•    Develop and deliver executive training and CPD courses in line with the programme currently under development by the DEI. 

Finance/Resource Management
•    Undertake and ensure financial plans are developed and that services operate effectively within budget across the Agency. 
•    Explore ways of improving efficiency and effectiveness and promote value for money.

Stakeholder Service and Liaison

•   Maintain clear and effective operational management to deliver the work of the Agency and its partnerships. 
•   Seek out feedback about the work of the Agency.
•   Work with senior colleagues from all areas of the university, with committees, external bodies, local/national/international government, industry and the community, collating and providing high level advice.

•   Represent the university externally in sector groups in consultations and negotiations, locally, nationally and internationally.
•   Work with local and regional councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop regional strategies and plans to improve energy security, affordability and sustainability through deployment of geothermal energy.

People Management
•    Develop and then lead the new National Agency for Geothermal Energy including all of its staff, a 15+ UK universities network in all four home nations, and partnerships with industry, government and local communities.
•    Recruit, develop, lead and manage staff across the Agency, developing and raising performance through mentoring and coaching. The Director will develop the Agency's staff over time, to create a thriving, high-performing team. 
•    Motivate, assess and reward of employees as required under university policy.

Continuous Improvement
•    Undertake continuous review of the Agency's quality and of external benchmarks to promote the best possible service.

•    Deliver complex data and information at national and international conferences, policy documents, briefing notes and via the media.
•    Influence national policy and regulation in relation to geothermal energy.
•    Undertake day to day interaction with people of any level, within or outside of the organisation. Engagement with the local community, schools and wider society will be a core part of the Agency’s work.

•    Any other reasonable duties as required.

What you need to demonstrate when you apply/Person Specification 
When you apply it is important that you let us know what skills/experience you have from a similar role and/or what skills/experience you have which would make you right for this role.  Further information about the role and responsibilities is at the end of this job description.  
Where a criteria has an asterisk* next to it, it may be given additional weighting when your application is considered.  Your application should cover the following criteria: 
Essential Criteria   

1.  Educated to PhD level in Engineering or Geoscience

2.   Proven ability to influence policy and/or regulation at a national level in geothermal energy or closely related areas.

3.    Excellent oral and written communication skills including presentation of complex data and information at national and international conferences.

4.    Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.  

5.    Professional practitioner with specialist knowledge and expertise used to influence events and activities within the organisation.  

6.    Extensive experience of operating at a strategic / expert level for a sustained period of time.

7.    Breadth of vision gained from extensive experience in field of expertise.

8.    Ability to contribute to planning at operational and strategic levels.

9.    Ability to anticipate change due to changes in the economic, social and governmental and/or technological environment. 

10.  Experience of developing innovative solutions and practical implementations for strategic change.

11.    Experience of managing and controlling substantial budget/resources/funding and an understanding of financial management procedures.

12.    Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of the University.

13.    Demonstrable ability to provide specialist advice and influence others at operational at strategic levels.

14.    Track record of cross-functional management and development experience and/or an enhanced management qualification applied across a large service team or teams.

Desirable Criteria 

1.    Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition.

2.    Awareness and understanding of the activities, objectives and strategic direction of the university, both current and future. 

3.    Well-developed knowledge of systems/services for own area and across functions and how they relate to the University Strategy. 

4.    Extensive knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines.

5.    Well-developed understanding of regulations and procedures and the implications of non- compliance on other staff.

How to apply 
To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  Please don’t forget to check if there is any weighted criteria (see above). 
While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.    
Submitting your application  
We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates. 
What you need to submit    
•    A CV: and    
•    A covering letter that outlines how you meet all of the criteria within the Person Specification.     
Contact details    
For a chat about the role or any further information please contact Professor Jon Gluyas ( 

Nigel Lees, Shift Geothermal,  

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.    
When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas. 

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