What does the future of energy look like?
“Never stop learning”
That was the advice given by Jo Coleman, Director Strategy Development at the Energy Technologies Institute, to an audience of over 100 Young Energy Professionals about the attitude to adopt to be innovative. In the context of the event’s theme, ‘Future Energy Landscapes’, it was a very relevant comment indeed: there are so many new things to learn within our industry right now. When it comes to thinking about its future, there are no easy answers. We heard about an array of ideas, trend and technologies which could all (together) pave the way to a low-carbon energy future.
The future will be low-carbon
Low-carbon is definitely the direction that is being taken. From the rise of renewables to the development of small modular reactors, from energy efficiency to battery solutions, carbon reduction is the common denominator for all these new technologies. That’s a reassuring fact.
One other interesting point was about the importance of engaging people on energy issues
“The lack of engagement is an issue” said Jo. It’s an area where innovation has a lot to offer. Archie Wilkinson from Pavegen – a company which owes its success to developing an innovative floor tile which turns footsteps into energy – said that their product was already doing a lot to educate people about the direct impact they can have on energy. No doubt smart meters currently being rolled out in British homes or the Internet of things with all the data it will generate, will provide more opportunities to bring energy to life for people.
“New and shiny things” vs. clarity of direction
There are plenty of new ideas but, as is often the case, it all comes down to a question of money. Policy and regulation have a critical role to play. “There will always be new and shiny things” said Jo, but the challenge is to maintain the interest once you’ve reached the other side of the “hype cycle”. Providing clarity of direction through effective policy tools can be a way to encourage people to see things through.
Our industry is undergoing a transformation, but it’s not easy
Quinton reminded the audience that the energy industry hadn’t radically changed for decades. This point was echoed by Carolina Tortora, Head of Innovation Strategy at National Grid System Operator. Driving change and creating the conditions for innovation were other important themes explored during the conference. But it is clear that people’s attitude towards change, even if not exclusive to our industry, is one area of particular focus.
Tips to take away
Tips were shared with the audience that night such as meeting new people, sharing knowledge across different industries and there was an additional plea from the panellists that evening: to promote diversity in the industry as a way to remain open to new ideas. Speaking to our young energy professionals network, that was certainly something that resonated with many of the attendees.
The Young Energy Professionals Forum held its final event of 2016, on the 'Future Energy Landscapes', this blog has been written by Mathieu Mahmoun who is part of the Young Energy Professionals Steering Committee.
- Read more about the Young Energy Professionals on the Energy UK website.
- Read the summary of the Q4 YEP Forum event 'Future Energy Landscapes' on the Energy UK website.