What can the energy sector learn from the past?

Interview with CEO Simon Roberts

31 October 2014

It’s the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists, the oldest of the Energy Institute’s predecessor organisations. To mark this, Energy World Magazine has been asking eminent figures in the energy sector about lessons from the past that can guide the future of their industry. This month’s edition features our CEO, Simon Roberts.

Here's an extract from Simon's interview in Energy World Magazine. Click here for the full interview.

[Energy World] - What are the main factors to solving the energy policy ‘trilemma’ of balancing supply security, affordability and sustainability?

[Simon] - We still don’t focus enough on the demand side. This is at the heart of solving all of these problems, not least because it’s still the case that we can save a kWh of energy far more cheaply than we can supply it. Yet we talk about supply gaps, rather than demand overloads. We plough vast sums into low carbon electricity sources while leaving mere crumbs for energy saving. We set up a capacity market in which energy demand response barely features (save for a paltry pilot), even though it has an almost exactly the same impact on the system.

Energy demand isn’t an alien force that is beyond comprehension or immune to influence. Demand is the sum total of the decisions made by 60 million people in the homes, offices and factories across the country, both in the moment (to switch on, all at the same time, the lights, kettle and cooker and electric fan heater) and over time as purchases and procurement specifications (to buy inefficient appliances and lighting, install inadequate heating controls, or fail to insulate). 

These decisions are subject to influence, both in the short term (witness the 15% drop in electricity demand in Japan after public campaigns in response to the post-Fukushima shut down) and in the medium term (by banning all but the most efficient appliances and gadgets and light bulbs and driving forward building retrofit).


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