Setting the agenda for 2017

Louise Kingham OBE FEI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI Chief Executive

Now in its third year, the EI’s Energy Barometer is becoming an established channel for gathering evidence from our members to inform policy decisions. Our last blog detailed some of the ways it informed our messages to policy makers and laid the foundation for further engagement around Brexit negotiations and industrial strategy in 2016. A look at the media coverage of the 2016 findings also demonstrates why this initiative, and our members’ participation, is so crucial. So as we prepare to send invitations to take part in this year’s survey, here’s a preview of what to expect in 2017.

The survey and report will focus on policy, markets and investment. On climate issues, we will again explore professionals’ expectations for emissions targets and the most effective ways to meet them. We’ll also look into drivers of the low carbon economy and the potential role of adaptation measures in the UK. Of course Brexit will be on everyone’s mind throughout 2017, so we hope to capture our members’ views on priorities for negotiation and transition plans, as well as forthcoming industrial strategy. We’ll also think about whether Brexit might have any impact on energy prices and the labour market in the short term.

Each year we take a deeper look into 2-3 areas on professionals’ and policy makers’ minds. This year we’ll be asking members in more detail about decarbonising heat, new business models in the energy industry, and trust between industry, government, and the public.

In response to feedback from young professionals, we are planning a section in the report which puts a spotlight on the unique perspective of Graduates. They will answer some tailored questions about the best ways attract and retain young talent, and how they foresee their own job might be transformed over the course of their career. We hope those new to the industry will share their vision for the future, and a fresh look at what attracted them to the industry and keeps them in it.

As always, the survey questions are intentionally diverse – there’s no need to be an expert in all the areas covered. It’s the respondents’ experience inside the industry that makes the responses valuable. And all the responses truly are valuable: the survey results will determine our key messages to policy makers for 2017 – specifically around priorities for Brexit negotiation and transition, industrial strategy, and how to make the UK more ‘pro-innovation’.

Invitations to join the EI College, the group which will be surveyed, will be sent by email in mid-January.  Watch for yours, and I hope you’ll accept this unique opportunity to contribute to the energy debate should you be one of the limited number of members to receive an invite.

For more details about the Energy Barometer, including past reports and media coverage, visit knowledge.energyinst.org/barometer

Joining the dots is a big ask…

Louise Kingham, EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham, Chief Executive, Energy Institute

But it is not an impossible one in my view. Those of us that spend time working on it know only too well that energy policy is complicated. A book I have just finished reading illustrates it from the perspective of a former Secretary of State for Energy, which in itself was illuminating (for someone like me who has not worked in politics or the machinery of Government). But it wasn’t that that caused me to turn the pages, it was his central message that caught my attention because it’s something I have also been thinking about.

How do we get beyond the politics and other influences around ‘energy decisions’ so that we can actively evolve a system where traditional and new forms of energy sit alongside each other acceptably – increasing capacity and reinforcing the security of the system – which is not for a lack of fuel sources and, at the same time, drive energy efficiency, reduce energy intensity and carbon emissions in a connected and planned way? How do we do this rather than pitch options against each other when in reality all that does is make the macro outcomes – security of supply, emissions reduction and affordability – all the more difficult to achieve. Indeed some would go further and say energy decisions thus far have put us back, not moved us forward –  a view shared by the author of the book I refer to.

If the answer were simple and didn’t require great bravery, as well as ingenuity, then we would already be there. But, in the meantime, the EI has a responsibility to raise the debate and try to move the conversation forward. I hope a couple of forthcoming events and the publication of the EI’s second Energy Barometer report will help to do that. Firstly, our partnership with Elsevier brings you the Energy Systems conference on 14-15 June at the QEII Centre in London. At breakfast on the 15 June we will launch the second Energy Barometer report at the same venue and, later in the month, on 28 June in London, Sir David King HonFEI will receive the EI’s Melchett Award and give a lecture about the energy transition as he sees it. I’d commend all these events to you and encourage your participation to help move the conversation forward. I am also considering other events later in the year that we can host to debate specific aspects of our evolving energy system so if you have ideas to share with me on that then please feel free to get in touch – lkingham@energyinst.org