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.

The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it ― Samuel Johnson

Louise Kingham OBE FEI EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive

Why is it that, in this information age we live in, the truth seems ever harder to get to? The facts often seem to either not exist or be buried ever deeper under layers of rhetoric and commentary . My views are probably a little tested after weeks of election campaigning in the UK, but nevertheless I think the point still stands.

So if we still think an evidence base is important – as I and other EI members do –  it’s essential that we step up and provide good quality, clear information that can be trusted. We also need to explain what the information was produced for and how we expect it might be used. This in turn reminds the recipients of the EI’s role as an independent professional society and source of trusted expertise – which is probably not called upon enough.

Two recent contributions from the EI have only just been published – the 2015  Retail Marketing Survey and the second G9 Incident Data Report for safety performance in the offshore wind industry.  Both reports contain a wealth of factual data as well as statistics;  both are designed to offer an evidence base for the state of play in two very different parts of the energy industry – one focusing on the health of a sector, the other on the health of the people within it.

So let me make a suggestion. If you are in need of trusted and useful information think about whether the EI could provide it for you.

The EI Knowledge Service provides a central resource for energy knowledge and information – find out more by visiting knowledge.energyinst.org

Safety transparency in offshore wind – who’s next?

Over the hunIan Marchantdred years of the Energy Institute (EI), the nature of energy technology has constantly changed and thrown up new challenges. The EI has always tried to keep at the forefront of these changes and that continues to this day.

One of the most recent developments has been offshore wind where the UK leads the way. We now have over one thousand turbines offshore with a capacity of 3.7GW. A few years ago, wearing an industry hat, I became aware of the need to develop common safety and technical standards and was supportive of the formation of the G9 group of offshore wind developers. At the same time, I was a Vice President of the EI and when the G9 needed a permanent home, serendipity allowed me to suggest a solution that is now a key part of our technical programme.

One key part of any industry’s development is transparency about its safety performance.  This wasn’t the case in the early days of offshore wind, but now the G9 and the EI are collecting and publishing annual data which will allow areas of risk and poor performance to be tackled. The first such annual report covering 2013 has just been published and it sets a benchmark for progress to be monitored.

I wonder what other area of the energy industry could do with some help from the EI to pull together some independent and objective safety performance data.