I have spent over 25 years in the energy industry and the attitude of society to that industry has changed over this time. In my early days in the sector, the industry was largely taken for granted. In fact, when I told friends I was joining the energy industry the general response was bewilderment because they thought it was boring. However, my experience has been the exact opposite. I have had a fulfilling and interesting career but that isn’t my point. It’s about how attitudes have changed.
Over the last ten years or so, I have found that people are generally much more interested in energy. They want to know about what is happening to prices, who owns the industry and what choices the industry is facing. There is a lot of debate nowadays. It could be whether we should build a new nuclear power station. It could be whether the UK should start fracking. Or it could be whether wind farms are a blot on the landscape or a modern and clean form of electricity production.
However, there is a problem. The industry has struggled to engage in these debates in a meaningful and positive way and I have been wondering why that should be. I have not got a clear answer, just a few theories. Is it because our industry is an essential commodity so we haven’t had to really invest in branding and sales like the makers of shampoo, baked beans or summer holidays? Maybe it’s because our industry is generally populated by engineers and accountants (guilty as charged)? Or maybe it’s because we all have different views ourselves on what we think the right answers are to the choices we face, so society hears a cacophony of voices coming from our industry. Finally, I wonder whether the complicated and long term nature of many of our decisions don’t play well in our 24 hour instant media world. What do you think?