Gearing up for the EI’s 2016 Energy Barometer

Louise Kingham OBE FEI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE
Chief Executive

Although we only published the first Energy Barometer this year, it has already become a widely recognised and understood report by those that help to shape the energy world we, as energy professionals, work to sustain and develop.

From its launch in the Palace of Westminster to the desks of CEOs, to the offices of Ministers and senior civil servants to the national, local and trade media, the Barometer has travelled far and wide, encouraging debate and development of the discussion around knowledge transfer, innovation in energy developments, investment in energy technologies and engagement with customers. The EI has also begun work to address solutions to some of the challenges members raised.

Now it is time to develop the 2016 report. In 2015 we invited some members to form a College. We will soon be sending out invitations to some existing College members and, as we promised, extending membership of the College to new participants to balance continuity with the opportunity for wider participation among the Fellowship and Graduate members in particular. We hope you will want to contribute to this important work.

Officials within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) are also getting involved this time around to enhance the direct effectiveness of the useful resource that the Barometer has already become. The Barometer is an essential conduit for the energy professionals’ evidence to be heard – I hope you will add your voice to it.

Restless disposition in energy policy

Ian Marchant

Ian Marchant FEI Immediate Past President

In preparing for a conference on energy policy, I came across this quote from Walter Bagehot – ‘If you keep altering your house, it is a sign either that you have a bad house, or that you have an excessively restless disposition – there is something wrong somewhere’. As a constitutional expert, he was talking about the problems of Government in the 1800s but his comment is so true today.

It was the phrase ‘restless disposition’ that caught my eye, as it is theme that Professor Anthony King uses in his book, Who governs Britain, to describe one of the problems with 21st century politics.  All new ministers want to make an impact; want to be seen to be doing things; want to make announcements that attract headlines. They are always in a hurry.

Energy policy has been a notable victim of this syndrome. This century we have already had nine ministers with cabinet responsibility for energy (counting both DECC and the various forerunners to the Department for Business). It’s even worse at Minister of State level where we are on number 14.  All this change means that the new minister, who arrives with a restless disposition, is also in a tearing hurry as they only have one to two years to make their impact; less time than it takes to build any assets in the energy industry. This timescale precludes thoughtful consideration, proper consultation and assessment of the impact of any change on the whole energy system before action, and completely rules out any learning from the results of previous activity.

The civil service used to act as the brakeman to the ministerial bobsleigh but senior officials change almost as often as ministers and rarely build up expertise in one policy area, seeming to need to switch departments to get promotion. It is no wonder that we have such a patchwork of interventions and plethora of changes and amendments and no wonder that we do not have a joined up, robust energy policy. We are getting what the politicos system is designed to produce – ‘something wrong’ to quote Bagehot.

And EI members agree with me. The EI’s inaugural Energy Barometer  survey reports that EI members see policy continuity as an essential component to reduce investment risk and encourage a longer-term view.  In fact, EI members deem it to be one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry in 2015. The complexities of the energy system require clearly communicated policies that are consistent over time and with each other.

If we are to have a thought through, robust and enduring energy policy we need a fundamental change to the governance and political arrangements that determine this policy. The stability, longevity and independence of the Governor of the Bank of England is the sort of role we need. And no; I am definitely not interested in doing that job!

 

Past, present and future

Ian Marchant

Ian Marchant FEI, President

All good things must come to an end and I am now handing over the Presidency of the Energy Institute (EI) having served two years. It has been a joy and a privilege to have the role and I hope I have been a good steward of our organisation. In reflecting on the two years, my thoughts are about the past, present and future.

We have just finished celebrating our one hundredth anniversary and that included a cake in the Palace of Westminster, a video from the Prince of Wales and numerous dinners and events up and down the country. It is good occasionally to look back and celebrate the achievements of the past, however that phase of EI’s life is over, probably for another 25 years. We have also launched the Energy Matrix, which makes available the accumulated knowledge of over 90,000 records and wisdom of our industry, in a modern digital form.

But enough of the past. We are all members of today’s energy industry and the EI continues to address today’s issues. During the last twelve months or so we have hosted the inaugural Energy Systems conference and our annual IP Week conference, which this year generated a lot of media interest, as well as another 90 events. A new addition to the EI calendar has been the autumn President’s event. In 2013, I hosted a debate and then in 2014 I gave a lecture which, as it was held in a function room at the Hard Rock Cafe, was full of song title puns. We have got involved in new initiatives such as POWERful Women and ESOS, and the first publication under the Energy Essentials banner has been issued. Our technical programme continues to go from strength to strength with the issue of 41 technical guidance documents, the publication of the first G9 offshore wind annual incident data report and further growth in the content of and access to The Journal of the Energy Institute. We have continued to drive up standards and build competencies for the future with the accreditation of 68 energy-related courses in 21 institutions throughout the world.

And talking of the future, as I hand over the reins to the very capable hands of Professor Jim Skea CBE FRSA FEI, I would highlight three foundation stones that have been laid recently. Firstly, we have started the refurbishment of our building to make it fit for the 21st century and to provide better member services. Secondly we have undertaken and launched our first Energy Barometer, which uses the knowledge and experience of our membership to gauge the state of the energy world and to inform policymakers and commentators. Thirdly, we introduced a new EI award category, the Young Energy Professional of the Year, to complement the work of our growing Young Professional Networks.

I believe that the group who met under the leadership of Sir Boverton Redwood a hundred years ago would be proud of what their creation continues to do and in its plans for the future.

A nice problem to have with awards

Ian Marchant

Ian Marchant FEI, President

I have never been a big fan of awards, probably because I never win any! However, last year I was one of the judges for the Energy Institute’s annual awards and this sort of changed my view. I had two, apparently conflicting, emotions. Firstly, I was really impressed with the calibre of many of the nominees and was struck by the obvious evidence of professionalism and achievement. However, the second emotion was that in a few of the categories I was disappointed with the depth of the field as I know from the various roles I have around the energy industry that there is a lot of really great stuff happening and lots of really talented and committed people.

I would single out two particular awards where I would have liked to see a lot more nominees. Firstly there is what is now called the ‘Energy Champion‘ award which is for an individual who has made a significant contribution to our industry. I suspect that one reason for a small field is that people don’t feel they should nominate themselves. I totally agree with this so why not nominate a colleague or contact who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. They could be your energy hero or they could be a rising star, it doesn’t matter; what matters is the impact they have had.

The second award where I would like to see a deluge of nominees is for safety. This is a topic close to my heart and I know that, for most companies in our sector, it is the number one priority or core value. Lots of good stuff is happening, every day, to improve processes, change behaviour and reduce risks. Let’s celebrate this and use the awards to showcase what can be done to inspire others to raise their game too.

So my plea is that we make the job of this year’s judging panel much more difficult by swamping them with loads of examples of the good things that are happening in our industry. This would be a nice problem to have.

The EI Awards are free to enter and the deadline for submissions is 29 June 2015.
For more information, please visit www.energyinst.org/ei-awards

 

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.