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 28June 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 – email@example.com
What the EI does – supporting and recognising energy professionals to solve energy challenges – is the ultimate in public benefit because it’s FOR society. The trouble is, it’s usually not WITH society and there in lies the nub of the problem for energy development. The EI’s Council has been debating how the EI can help bridge this gap in communications and build understanding. By doing so, we reduce fear and uncertainty, we present the evidence – the facts – and let people make better informed decisions about energy issues. These people are likely to be the people that make energy system change happen – they just don’t realise the power in their own hands. In society today, energy development is decided anywhere from the highest order of governments all the way to the remotest local citizens.
With 21,000 energy experts among us – who are all members of society and community – we have the opportunity to help solve this problem. We just need to work out the most effective way to do so.
At the same time as working locally, it’s important that some of our most eminent members succeed on a global stage. For example, EI’s Honorary Fellows including Sir David King, Lord Browne, Lord Stern and Lord Turner are among the authors of the Apollo Programme – which calls for a fraction of public funds from countries to deliver a global research programme to solve the challenges of climate change at scale. The simple ideas are often the best and experts understand the technologies that could make a difference now. Again at a global scale, it’s garnering support from decision-makers who don’t see themselves as part of the energy solution but have the power to be so.