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Who were the “winners” & “losers”? An analysis of wind projects in Texas’ 2021 deep freeze

In this analysis, we’ll take a closer look at the project-level hourly performance data and seek to identify key trends and takeaways from that granular dataset. We'll focus on wind projects, as solar projects were widely known to have performed or overperformed relative to expectations.

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Until recently, comprehensive granular data about which individual power plants were generating during the February deep freeze in Texas didn’t exist. As a result, most analysis to date has focused on aggregate fleet performance (such as our analysis of wind and solar performance given local weather conditions) or the meteorological conditions that caused the event. While limited project outage information was available from ERCOT, the hour-by-hour performance of each plant had not been made public – until now.

 

Hourly project-level generation data is released by the Texas grid operator on a 60-day lag, which means that February information was just released recently. Each month, our market intelligence tool REmap processes this data from the grid operator, making it easy to visualize and assess project-level performance with a couple of clicks.

 

In this analysis, we’ll take a closer look at the project-level hourly performance data and seek to identify key trends and takeaways from that granular dataset. We will focus on wind projects, as solar projects were widely known to have performed or overperformed relative to expectations.

 

This article analyzes the performance of wind projects in all of ERCOT. For individual project consultation and to understand what the February 2021 event means for your projects, either in development or already operating, speak to our REmap team today. 

 

 

Top Generators

 

To start, we want to highlight the high performing wind projects in ERCOT’s fleet. We’ll look at this by the project’s net capacity factor, that is, how much energy the project contributed to the grid adjusted for the size of the project. Here, we are focusing on performance during the deep freeze, so from February 11 through February 19.

 

Figure 1. Top 10 performing ERCOT wind projects 2/11-2/19, by capacity factor.

 

 

Top Revenue Makers

 

While generating essential megawatt-hours was critical to supporting the grid during the winter storm, another important topic is the financial impact of the event.

 

It is hard to overstate the impact of the February 2021 winter storm on power markets. Power prices were at or near $9,000/MWh for nearly 100 hours, leading to a cumulative price that was over 10 times that of the prior “extreme” market event in August 2019.

 

Figure 2. Observed cumulative power prices at ERCOT North Hub in different months.

 

Overall, the financial “winners” were those projects that generated during the highest-price hours (the hours in which scarcity conditions elevated power prices). It is important to note, however, that the high value of generation during high priced events is often shared, in whole or in part, with the offtaker of the project as a result of contract-for-difference hedge settlements (in all its various flavors: vPPA, pgPPA, PRS, P99 Hedge).

 

Let’s look at the highest value projects across Texas at each major hub.

 

Figure 3. Top 5 performing wind projects in February 2021, by region, ranked by generation-weighted real-time price at the hub.

 

What’s common across Texas is that the around-the-clock (ATC) price of power in February 2021 exceeded $1,500/MWh. After that, what should stand out is that wind projects across South Hub were best-positioned to generate valuable energy and capture record-high prices. Projects at North Hub experienced a significant shape discount, while the best projects at West Hub experienced a more neutral shape relative to the around-the-clock (ATC) price. 

 

The highest realized value was achieved by Peyton Creek Wind Farm, with a generation-weighted realized hub price that exceeded $2,000/MWh

 

 

Congestion Impacts in ERCOT South

 

Not only did Peyton Creek Wind Farm benefit from valuable generation at the hub level, it also benefited from limited node-to-hub congestion (also known as “basis”). The project is located between Houston and Corpus Christi, with few wind projects nearby to compete for valuable transmission capacity. Many of the other highest-value ERCOT South wind projects are all located in a relatively congested area further south, and experienced materially worse grid congestion.

 

Figure 4. Node to hub basis (in $/MWh) in February 2021 across Texas wind projects.

 

Figure 4 shows that basis impacts varied widely across the ERCOT region during the winter storm. Positive basis (dark green) indicates that a project observed a higher LMP at the project node than the price at the hub. This is generally in the project’s favor, as offtake agreements usually settle at a hub. Any positive basis then is upside for the project, while negative basis implies a loss for the project.

 

Although most of ERCOT experienced relatively minimal node to hub basis during the winter storm, projects in the ERCOT South region saw significant basis impacts. When wind speeds are high and projects are generating, it’s not uncommon for projects in South Texas to suffer from congestion-related impacts.

 

To understand what was happening in ERCOT South it is helpful to dive one level deeper. Figure 5 shows the hourly price and generation data for a coastal Texas wind project, Cameron Wind, that saw significant negative basis during the event. The middle chart highlights the difference between the nodal and hub price at one specific hour on February 17th — almost -$4,700 — and the bottom chart shows the observed hourly generation. 

 

Figure 5. From top to bottom: real-time hourly price (project node in red, ERCOT South hub in green), node-to-hub basis, and generation for Cameron Wind in South Texas for February 13-20, 2021.

 

 

Unprecedented Variability

 

While coastal Texas wind projects fared the best (see Figure 3), there was considerably more variability in their financial performance in February 2021 than during past events. Figure 6 shows historical real-time shape in dollars per megawatt-hour from August 2019 to February 2021 for several wind projects along the coast of south Texas. 

 

Figure 6. Historical shape (in $/MWh) from August 2019 to February 2021 for various coastal Texas wind projects.

 

Figure 6 shows these projects all performed similarly during the extreme price event in August 2019, but diverged materially in February 2021. Several coastal Texas wind projects saw extreme negative shape values in February 2021, a dramatic divergence from the August 2019 event. The negative shape values are likely due to poor operating performance during high-priced periods. 

 

Poor Performers

 

The worst revenue and shape values were seen by the wind and solar projects that were offline for the duration of the high priced event. These projects were unable to generate — whether due to operating decisions, transmission constraints, or other reasons — when electricity was most in demand and power prices at their highest. (Analysis of hourly data shows, for example, that Big Spring Wind Power generated zero megawatt-hours between February 10th and February 19th.) As such, their generation-weighted value is significantly lower than the around-the-clock price of power at the hub. These projects were heavily concentrated in West Texas. 

 

Figure 7. Lowest performing wind projects in February 2021, by region, ranked by generation-weighted real-time price at the hub.

 

 

Learn More 

 

The deep freeze in Texas was an unprecedented event in ERCOT’s history. Granular analysis of projects in the region gives visibility into which projects benefitted from the period of extreme market conditions and which projects didn’t. Going forward, as the focus of generators and policy-makers alike shifts towards resilience, having visibility into this performance data will become more important than ever.

 

REmap is REsurety’s market analytics platform, an interactive tool that allows users to quickly and accurately understand the impacts of weather and power markets on the value of renewable energy projects. To learn more, visit resurety.com/remap or contact us at remap@resurety.com.

 


 

A similar version of this post appeared in Windpower Monthly.

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Devon Lukas
Risk and Transaction Analyst
Anshal Savla
Data Engineer

Anshal Savla is an engineer with expertise in building data pipelines and automated workflows.  Before joining the REsurety team, he worked as a Data Analyst at New York City Transit where he built a data pipeline to analyze employee attrition trends. At REsurety, he is working on building and optimizing automated data pipelines to support the company’s analysis of wind speed and electric power generation and pricing data.


Mr. Savla holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Technology from NMIMS University, in India.

Irina Gumennik
Associate, Risk Analytics

Irina Gumennik is an environmental engineer and data analyst with more than 10 years of experience in the development of renewable energy projects. Irina was part of the team that permitted, constructed, and commissioned the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind energy project in the United States. Before joining REsurety, Irina worked for the world’s largest demand response service provider on demand-side solutions and battery storage products for commercial and institutional energy users. At REsurety, Irina evaluates weather-related volumetric risk and structures hedging contracts to mitigate that risk for clean energy buyers and sellers.

 

Ms. Gumennik holds a Master’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University.

Elizabeth Kalikasingh
Senior Analyst, Risk Analytics

Lizzy Kalikasingh is a materials engineer and scientist with experience in materials selection and optimization for wind and solar technology. Before joining REsurety, Lizzy researched polymer coatings to reduce ice adhesion for wind turbine blades and was involved in the selling of renewable energy credits generated by wind turbines in Cleveland.  Additionally, she worked as an operations engineer at EverPower Windholdings, where she designed tools to analyze the performance of wind turbines and auxiliary instruments. 

Ms. Kalikasingh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

David Simons
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David Simons is an engineer with experience in energy systems and data science. Prior to joining REsurety, David led the Systems & Analytics team at Enel X, building software to settle demand response events for the world’s largest DR provider. At REsurety, he develops and improves the analytics used to predict renewable energy revenue and quantify risk.


Mr. Simons holds a Bachelor’s degree in Energy Systems Engineering from the University of Toronto as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from McGill University.

Daniel Jang
Power Markets Research Associate

Daniel Jang is a researcher with experience in fundamentals-based modeling of electric power systems. Before joining REsurety, he worked in the utilities practice at the Brattle Group, consulting on issues spanning wholesale and retail electricity in litigation and commercial contexts. At REsurety, he is helping to advance renewable power price analytics. 


Mr. Jang holds a Bachelors degree in Economics from Princeton University.

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Brian Sousa
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Blair Allen
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Blair Allen is a product manager with experience in energy information services products that support both ends of energy market exposure, from the project development phase to managing merchant generation. Before joining REsurety, Mr. Allen worked at a large energy data and analytics company as the Chief of Staff to their Power business unit, helping to manage, develop, and grow the company’s global portfolio of electricity market products and services. Prior to that he worked as a Senior Market Analyst offering price and congestion forecasts to customers with physical or financial risk in the Mid-continent ISO.


Mr. Allen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Bucknell University, with a minor in Economics.

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Aaron Perry
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Aaron Perry is a meteorologist with experience in wind resource assessment, climate science, and numerical weather prediction. Before joining REsurety he worked for Vaisala, performing wind and solar resource assessments, and analyzing hundreds of pre-construction and operational projects around the world. As part of his Master’s studies he researched supply-side volumetric risk to renewable energy companies and the financial tools that may reduce this risk.  At REsurety Aaron evaluates weather related volumetric risk and structures hedging contracts to mitigate that risk for clean energy buyers and sellers.


Mr. Perry holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the Central European University in Hungary, Lund University in Sweden, and the University of Manchester in the UK. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from Cornell University.

Jessica Tomaszewski
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Jessica Tomaszewski is an atmospheric scientist with experience in boundary layer meteorology, numerical weather prediction, and wind resource assessment. Prior to joining REsurety, Dr. Tomaszewski completed a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship with a focus on simulating interactions between wind farms and the lower atmosphere. She also conducted two summer internships at NextEra Analytics investigating improvements to the wind farm wake modeling process. As a research scientist at REsurety, she investigates new techniques for wind flow and wake modeling and long-term wind resource prediction.


Dr. Tomaszewski holds Doctor of Philosophy and Master’s degrees in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma where she graduated with highest honors.

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Product Manager
David Luke Oates
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David Luke Oates is an engineer and researcher with experience in statistical and fundamentals-based modeling of wholesale electricity systems.  Before joining the REsurety team, he was a consultant at the Brattle Group, supporting electricity market operators, utilities, and asset owners to address market design, asset valuation, and regulatory questions. At REsurety, he is helping to advance power price analytics in the context of emerging issues in the electricity sector.

 

Dr. Oates holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University, Canada.

Jennifer Newman
VP of Atmospheric Science Research

Jennifer Newman is an atmospheric scientist with experience in boundary layer meteorology, remote sensing, machine learning, and wind resource assessment. Prior to joining REsurety, Dr. Newman completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with a focus on improving turbulence estimates from Doppler wind lidars. As a research scientist at REsurety, she investigates new methods for estimating the risk of potential wind projects.


Dr. Newman holds Doctor of Philosophy and Master’s degrees in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from Cornell University where she graduated with distinction in research.

Tony Lapolito
SVP of Product

Tony Lapolito is the Senior Vice President, Product of REsurety.  He has been a part of multiple early stage companies that have generated well over $1B in liquidity.  Tony is a pioneer in many disruptive technologies including digital media, CDNs, cloud, distributed computing and big data.  He has held senior Product, Marketing and UX positions at Cisco Systems, BNI and SightPath (both acquired by Cisco), Chipcom (acquired by 3Com) as well as Signiant and SevOne. 


Tony holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Massachusetts, Lowell and a Masters of Business Administration from Boston College.

Adam Reeve
SVP of Software

Adam Reeve is a mechanical engineer and data scientist with a strong interest in the rapidly evolving renewable energy landscape. Before joining the REsurety team, he worked for a proprietary trading firm specializing in quantitative analysis of energy markets. His deep experience in data-driven analysis, model building, risk assessment and data visualization support REsurety’s analytical approach to quantifying and managing the weather-linked revenue risks of wind power projects.


Mr. Reeve holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science from Yale College, with a focus on energy and environmental studies. He graduated with distinction in both majors.

Carl Ostridge
SVP of Analytics

Carl Ostridge has more than 10 years of wind energy experience specializing in pre-construction and operational wind resource and energy yield assessments. Prior to joining REsurety, Mr. Ostridge worked for DNV GL analyzing and improving the accuracy of wind farm energy analyses and developing models to predict wind farm energy output and revenue on hourly timescales. He also led research activities focusing on turbine performance, wind flow and wake modeling, measurement instrument accuracy, and wind resource variability and long-term trends. His extensive industry experience and proven analytical skills support REsurety’s industry-leading tools and expertise in weather-related risk and valuation for renewable energy projects. 


Mr. Ostridge holds a Master’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Exeter in the UK.

Lee Taylor
CEO

Lee Taylor is the Co-Founder and CEO of REsurety.  Since founding REsurety in 2012 to commercialize research he conducted at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Mr. Taylor has built a rapidly growing company, gained institutional financing and attracted top-notch talent, advisors and directors. Today, REsurety’s products are not only award winning, but are redefining the way clean energy buyers and sellers are thinking about and managing risk. Under Mr. Taylor’s stewardship, REsurety has amassed contracts supporting more than 5,000 MW of renewable energy generation capacity, and counts many of the U.S. — if not the world’s — largest companies as customers and partners, including Microsoft, Invenergy, Capital Power, Southern Company, Nephila Climate, and Allianz.


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David Luke Oates
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David Luke Oates is an engineer and researcher with experience in statistical and fundamentals-based modeling of wholesale electricity systems.  Before joining the REsurety team, he was a consultant at the Brattle Group, supporting electricity market operators, utilities, and asset owners to address market design, asset valuation, and regulatory questions. At REsurety, he is helping to advance power price analytics in the context of emerging issues in the electricity sector.


Dr. Oates holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University, Canada.

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Mr. Critz holds a Master’s degree in Management and Engineering from MIT Sloan, where he received an NREL Innovative Research Analysis Award grant for wind integration research. Mr. Critz also holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Jackson Myers
VP, Transaction Analytics

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Mr. Myers holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from McGill University and a Master’s degree in physics from Rice University.

Jhané Thomas
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Jhané Thomas is a DevOps Engineer with a pervasive background in CI/CD and automation. Prior to joining REsurety, she worked at large company focused on developing computer processors and related technologies, where she improved their CI/CD pipelines and testing infrastructure. At REsurety, she is building and improving the CI/CD infrastructure as well as implement more DevOps practices.


Ms. Thomas is in the process of attaining her Master’s degree in Information technology and has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, both from Johnson & Wales University.

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Steven Kalt
Data Visualization Engineer

Steven Kalt is a full-stack developer with experience in data visualization, GIS, web design, and renewable energy origination. Before joining REsurety, he worked for Lux Research, designing interactive visualizations and developing research tools. At REsurety, Mr. Kalt works to build modular, scalable, and informative data visualization systems. 


Mr. Kalt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Amherst College in Massachusetts.

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Pete Florenzano
Senior Data Engineer
Nathan Garcia
Software Quality Engineer
Eddy Page
Software Engineer, Data Science
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VP, Software Sales
Caelin Schaefer
Risk and Transaction Analyst
Amit Ranjan
Power Markets Research Associate
Aaron Carbine
Sr. Software Engineer
Yu Wang
Software Quality Manager

Yu Wang is the Software Quality Engineering Manager at REsurety who lays out the quality vision and oversees the quality activities of REsurety’s Risk, Platform and Information products. Before joining Resurety, Mr Wang built his more than twenty years of Software Quality Engineering tenure at MathWorks, Teradyne, Motorola and Amica by leading technical projects, managing onshore and offshore quality engineering teams, working cross-functionally, delivering high quality on-premises, distributed and cloud based software applications.

Mr Wang holds a Master’s degree in Software Reliability Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park.

 
Shane Hall
Software Engineer

Shane Hall trained as a mechanical engineer, but pivoted to software engineering after gaining academic research experience in the aerodynamic modeling of wind turbines. He has worked at ISO-NE modeling renewable resources, and as a software engineer in the energy consulting industry building financial software products and running commodity market forecasting to advise on procurement strategy in the C&I space. He has extensive experience in resource and market modeling, machine learning forecasting, and software product development.  At REsurety, Shane builds and improves software that analyzes renewable resources and assesses financial risk.


Mr. Hall holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor’s degree in Energy Engineering, and a Certificate in Wind Power Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Marcial Santiago
Data Quality Engineer

Marcial Santiago is a data engineer with a background in software development and mathematics. Before joining REsurety and the renewable energy industry, he worked as a Data Specialist at McLean Hospital. Mr. Santiago’s background in mathematics and software development help ensure the quality of to REsurety’s data-intensive approach to risk evaluation and mitigation.


Mr. Santiago holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computational Mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

Sarah Sofia
Software Engineer

Sarah Sofia is a photovoltaics engineer with extensive research experience in techno-economic analysis of solar cells and solar-plus-storage systems at high PV adoption rates. Prior to joining REsurety, Sarah performed doctoral research at MIT to determine how novel solar cell architectures and storage technologies could be made economically viable through combining experimental device fabrication, module manufacturing and system cost analysis, and location specific energy yield modeling to inform the optimal solar cell device design. At REsurety, Sarah is developing the team’s solar energy modeling software capabilities.


Dr. Sofia holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, as well as Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Astronomy with a concentration in scientific computing from Haverford College.

Sahar Shirani
Director, Engineering – Data Science

Sahar Shirani is a civil engineer with extensive background in data analysis and statistical model development. Prior to joining REsurety, she worked at a Boston-based startup focused on treating industrial water, where she conducted market analysis on commodities. At REsurety, she is building and continuously improving the data science platform that powers REsurety’s insights into the renewable energy markets.


Ms. Shirani holds a Master’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Amirkabir Unviersity of Technology, in Iran.

Peter Richardson
Engineering Manager, Visualization and Apps

Peter Richardson is an Engineering Manager at REsurety with a focus on data visualization. He has been at the crossroads of Energy markets and data management for over a decade working on a variety of projects including human capacity development for renewable energy systems in the Galapagos Islands and the buildout of analytic software packages for financial contracts in wholesale electricity markets. 


Mr. Richardson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Colorado College, with a minor in Mathematics. 

Owen Miles
Software Engineer

Owen Miles is a GIS specialist with experience in mapping and visualizing large environmental datasets.  Before joining REsurety, Owen worked in the environmental consulting field, where he specialized in numerical modeling and data visualization for environmental projects. At REsurety, he is building GIS and data visualization tools.


Owen has a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University and a Bachelor degree in Water Resources Engineering.

Omri Schwarz
Software Quality Engineer

Omri Schwarz has a long career of software development, quality assurance, and full-stack software and hardware implementation in academic and commercial contexts. Prior to REsurety, Mr. Schwarz designed, developed and administered quality assurance processes at a quantitative hedge fund, operated Beowulf supercomputers at MIT, and developed software at Fraunhofer. At REsurety, Mr. Schwarz supports the developers by implementing and upgrading the QA process, putting stitches in time to save nine. 


Mr. Schwarz has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

Michelle Bowen
Director, Business Development

Michelle Bowen is a business development professional who is passionate about ushering in a new clean energy era. Before joining the REsurety team, she worked in origination of long-term renewable energy offtake agreements at a leading, global renewable energy company.

Michelle holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering from Rice University.

Matthew Livingston
Senior Associate, Risk Analytics

Matthew Livingston is a meteorologist with experience in weather forecasting and data analysis. Before joining the REsurety team, Matt worked for Penn State University as a researcher responsible for collecting and analyzing data retrieved from hail storms to help aid in the prediction of large hail events.


Mr. Livingston holds a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology with a focus in Weather Risk Management from the Pennsylvania State University. In addition to his meteorology degree, he also minored in Energy, Business and Finance.

Mark Brewer
Data Visualization Engineer
Marion Cundari
Senior Analyst, Transaction Analytics

Marion Cundari is a mechanical engineer with experience in both wind energy and energy efficiency program evaluation. While earning her bachelor’s degree, Marion helped develop a sound based wind turbine condition monitoring prototype as her senior project. After graduation and before joining REsurety, Marion calculated energy and demand savings associated with utility sponsored energy efficiency programs throughout the United States.


Ms. Cundari holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a minor in economics from the University of Vermont.

Sinéad Barry-O’Brien
COO

Sinéad Barry-O’Brien is a leader in operations with proven execution across varied industries. Putting customers at the center of decision-making, she has driven growth through customer experience, team-building, and process improvement. Sinéad has supported global M&A strategies to build market share. She is passionate about scaling entrepreneurial companies in growth industries.


Sinéad holds a Master’s degree in International Public Policy and Diplomacy, from University College Cork, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the National University of Ireland, Galway.