Making connections

Ian Marchant

Ian Marchant FEI

Welcome everyone, to the Energy Institute (EI)’s inaugural blog posting. In my role as President, I’m looking forward to hearing views and opinions about what’s going on at the EI and the broader energy industry. But, as a seasoned blogger, I am delighted to launch the EI’s blog and hope it becomes a ‘must-read’ in time to come. 

I have spent some time now in the industry – a quarter of a century to be precise – the word that springs to mind when I describe how things work is interconnectedness. We all work in various places, doing different things within the energy industry – but all of what we do is connected to everything else.

Changing the way you tax North Sea oil and gas, for instance, can have repercussions for the electricity system. How you might ask? More tax can mean lower investment which can have an effect on whether or not to invest in offshore wind, and ultimately impact the electricity system. Not to mention direct consequences for our security of supply and indirect consequences for retail prices. This idea of interconnectedness is something that our policy-makers struggle with. Making the links and joining the dots is something policy-makers have got to start doing if we want to avoid unanticipated side-effects and ripples throughout the industry. Targeted and complex policy interventions are not the answer.

The EI is one of the few organisations that genuinely takes an all-energy approach and is raising the profile of this serious issue. The Energy Systems Conference takes place in London on 24-25 June and brings a host of speakers tackling the area of energy systems, together. It is only by taking a systematic approach that we have a chance of understanding what consequences are borne from different policies.

The EI is all about raising the quality of debate and understanding about how our industry really works. It’s not easy bringing disparate, seemingly unconnected subjects together but it’s important and we are striving constantly to make sure that we do.

2 thoughts on “Making connections

  1. Tony Brunton says:

    whilst it must be accepted that these major topics identified above are of significant importance what is even more important is to either educate politicians so that they can understand the problems they so blythely issue edicts on or take the control of this subject out of the hands of these amateurs and use professionals and joined up thinking to create a workable energy strategy.

    We have seen the proliferation of wind turbines which require stand by rotating generation to provide energy if the wind is too high or too low. This standby rotating generation is provided by centralised generation which is at best 35% efficient on a good day and costs an arm and a leg to support as well as being owned and run by non British companies. In addition to this we have hydro-electric generation facilities which were down graded years ago to less than 20Mw in order to qualify for European hand outs and which have never been upgraded since. Security of supply is constantly under threat because of this incompetent strategy and now to add insult to injury the government have seen fit to allow the French to build a new nuclear power station and guaranteed to pay them double what they are paying current energy providers. The so called experts have already said that if energy useage continues at current rates there is a serious potential for the requirement of power cuts and the environmental lobby is now extolling the virtues of the purchase of electric vehicles to reduce vehicular pollution and the use of air or ground source heat pumps to reduce pollution caused by combustion which can only result in the hastening of the the predicted blackouts. Such is the extent of this chaos that sensible informed people could be forgiven for thinking that the lunatics have taken over the asylum and any notion of planning for the future has been abandoned in favour of anarchy based on buzz words.

    Some of us thought that the advent of combined heat and power technology could have been the basis of localised small scale generation which could have done away with the 65% loss suffered by centralised generation due to process and transmission losses but this seems not to be finding favour with the powers that be and they continue, despite vehement protest, to continue to erect wind turbines which can never even compensate for the CO2 created by their manufacture, transport to site and erection and are costing the end user a fortune collected via hidden add ons. Finally we come to the matter of the new saviour of the human race BIOMASS and here the same mistakes seem to be being made as have been described above. If Drax Power Station converts to biomass it will consume the entire production of waste and reclaimed construction timber produced in the UK leaving nothing for any other users and pelleted biomass is already being imported from Canada and the USA to feed the need in the UK. We are seeing processes being used which result in higher levels of pollution than those presently being held up as unacceptable and some of the pollutants are highly toxic to both human and animal life forms. The other big problem is that the presence of these pollutants is often not discovered until they have been deposited in the environment.

    So yes I agree with the call for interconnectedness but it really needs to be coupled with a level of expertise on the part of those involved and a massive amount of joined up thinking

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  2. Nick Lowes MEI says:

    Energy Interconnectedness is a great theme for the EI to help shed some well needed light on. And it’s not just within the energy sector, but the interconnectedness of energy with the broader economy and society. Think about fuel tax or subsidies (a major issue for many developing countries), policies towards shale gas development, etc. and their impacts on industrial competitiveness and energy affordability…. a hugely complex mix which requires a comprehensive and systemic approach by governments and industry.

    Thanks Ian for kicking off such an important debate.

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