The voice of the energy industry

Remembering Martin Alder

Martin Alder died suddenly, at his home in Gloucestershire on 10 October 2016. Diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in 2015, he had undergone major surgery and post-operative treatment and was remarkably positive – in fact, almost his usual self when I saw him in June this year. He had a setback during the summer and in his last email to me in September, having described his latest health problems in a matter-of-fact style, soon switched to his feelings about the state of the England football team. We enjoyed a curry and a football match together from time to time and his thoughts on football were always perceptive.

But, it was for his dedication to renewable energy and policy for the industry that he will be remembered. Martin eventually formed his own business to develop projects, but, I first met him when he was working for Wessex Water and the company joined the Association of Independent Electricity Producers (AIEP). Martin went on to become chairman of the AIEP Renewable Energy Committee; continued in that role when the Association became the AEP in 1995 and into the merger that created Energy UK. Martin was not just an effective and long-serving chairman of a committee, but, at AEP, he became Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors and on a number of occasions, chaired, with style, meetings of the Board. For trade associations to succeed, the members – often representing different interests – need to respect each other. Martin respected people and in turn, they respected him.

Renewable energy plays a big part in the electricity supply industry today, but, it was not always like that. Martin saw arrangements for the support of renewables come and go. He was a critic of the ‘stop-start’ nature of NFFO, an advocate of alternatives and then critical of the changes of direction that plagued subsequent support mechanisms and prospects for investment. But, renewable energy is now on the map and he deserves immense credit for the huge role that he played – in AIEP, AEP and then Energy UK – in helping to make that happen. He will be remembered fondly by all those that worked with him. Not least for the advice and encouragement that he gave to a number of young, inexperienced people who came to work at AEP on renewable energy issues – all of whom have since moved on to senior positions in the sector. 

I shall remember not only Martin’s understanding of the industry, but, the dry sense of humour that was part of his style. When I retired in 2012, he spoke at my farewell party and mentioned my support for QPR… ‘through thin and thin’ he said. I shall miss him and so will his wife Cathryn and sons Ben and Dan, to whom all of those that worked with Martin will offer their condolences.

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