The first Energy Barometer report has been published by the Energy Institute (EI) and is the result of an initiative to survey energy professionals on an annual basis to identify priorities and trends, and monitor progress over time. Jim Skea, President-Elect, EI said, “the aim of this project is to solicit the views of EI members on the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector, and inform the conversation between industry, policymakers and the public. With a primary focus on the UK energy system, the Energy Barometer will be produced annually from surveys of the EI membership, covering both topical issues and regular subjects for year on year comparison. This report is intended to be a helpful resource for policy development and a useful gauge of industry trends.”
EI members were asked to identify the biggest challenges facing the energy industry this year. The most commonly cited span all sectors and demonstrate the broad range of issues facing the energy industry. They were framed within four key themes:
Policy continuity. Members call for policy continuity, particularly recognising the role of nuclear power, energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet UK emissions targets. The perception from professionals working in energy is that investment risk, due to policy uncertainty, has increased, particularly around CCS and onshore wind.
Low carbon investment. In order to maintain supply and meet environmental goals affordably, energy professionals recognise the need to increase levels across low carbon technologies, particularly highlighting the need for increased energy efficiency and smart grid investment. When asked further about the greatest scope for efficiency improvements, members deem changes to the building stock should be made the top priority. To underpin these developments, EI members believe there is great need for innovation across low carbon technologies, but single out energy storage as having the greatest need.
Forward planning and knowledge transfer. To coincide with these opportunities, EI members perceive there to be shortages of skilled and qualified workers across the low carbon energy system, with shortages more likely to be seen in areas of high political uncertainty. The report for this year highlights the need to do more to capture the knowledge of retiring professionals, with mentoring schemes seen as being particularly effective.
Engaging the public. 70% of members recognise the energy sector is ineffectively communicated to the general public. This is seen to lead to apathy towards, and a lack of understanding of, energy issues. This coincides with an acknowledgement that public perception, acceptance and trust are factors influencing the success or failure of new energy projects.
David King, Special Representative for Climate Change, Foreign Office commented, “the most pressing need in the world today is for a global focus on the development of energy from clean, reliable, competitively priced primary sources. Climate change, very largely attributable to fossil fuel burning, provides a looming but avoidable catastrophe, but the cobenefits in energy security, health and wellbeing, and long term prosperity alone justify the investment of funds needed for these exciting innovations.”
Malcolm Brinded, Chairman, Shell Foundation added, “the Barometer suggests modest support for increased North Sea oil and gas investment compared with other areas, but there remains a strong need for sustaining high investment into this sector. This is critical because there is only a short window of opportunity to maximise output from existing producing fields, and to find and develop remaining small prospects, whilst the ageing production infrastructure is still in place and operable. And however successful our renewables programme, the UK will now be a major net oil and gas importer for many decades, so maximising our own North Sea production has huge economic and employment benefits.”
Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd