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Difficult times – setting a long-term direction for energy is essential

11/5/2022

4 min read

Nick Wayth
Nick Wayth CEng FEI, CEO, Energy Institute

As he passes his one-year anniversary at the Energy Institute (EI), CEO Nick Wayth CEng FEI feels it timely to share a few perspectives on the energy sector and the vital role of the Energy Institute under our evolving strategy.

I don’t think any of us could have predicted the massive shockwaves which have taken place in the energy sector over the last year. In my last comment article in New Energy World, I described the triple energy crisis: the climate crisis, a price crisis and a security crisis. I won’t repeat the points I made back in March, but what is now clear is that the triple crisis is not going away any time soon. 

 

We continue to see oil over $100/b, here in the UK domestic energy prices increased by over 50% in April, and around the world petrol and diesel are at all time highs. For those in the northern hemisphere, this winter is going to see levels of energy poverty not seen before, with millions of people having to choose between eating and heating. Europe is rapidly trying to reduce its dependency on Russian oil and gas.

 

Meanwhile, it is evident that the planet is not moving fast enough to reduce its emissions, with CO2 emission levels that have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

 

Whilst these are dark days, I remain convinced that the long-term direction of the energy transition will help us address each and all of the three crises. Yes, there will be bumps along the way and we have just hit a very big bump. In the short term, tensions of tackling the security crisis may make it more challenging to tackle the other two crises, but in the long term the solutions to one crisis will address all three. The energy transition will deliver greater affordability, greater security and a net zero future. 

 

As well as thinking about supply, it is a critical priority to focus on demand. The role of energy efficiency and better energy management has never been more important. There are changes each of us can make today to reduce our consumption, as well as changes that will take longer to deliver. I am thrilled that just last week the EI announced a partnership with the John Lewis Partnership to deliver our immersive EnergyAware training programme to all 76,000 John Lewis and Waitrose staff.

 

Strategic themes for the EI

It is clear to me that the Energy Institute’s role has never been more important. Our newly stated purpose: Creating a better energy future for our members and society by accelerating a just global energy transition to net zero, will set our direction for the remainder of this decade and beyond. To help guide our activities, we have also set out three strategic themes.

 

1: Attracting, developing and equipping the diverse future energy workforce 

Our members are at the heart of everything the EI does. We have some exciting projects under development to attract new members, improve our training offers and to allow our members to be part of a global connected community of energy professionals. See also the POWERful Women and our Generation 2050 initiatives. Without the huge voluntary contributions made by so many of our members we would not achieve a fraction of our aims. 

 

2: Informing energy decision-making through convening expertise and advice. 

Our Members and Fellows are some of the world’s leading experts in energy. We have a societal role to help governments, regulators and other decision makers tackle the toughest energy challenges. We do this in many ways, including helping to improve policy makers’ understanding of energy through our Energy Fundamentals course delivered by EI Fellows in Whitehall and Holyrood.

 

We launched International Energy Week in February, with a clear shift in direction from our former flagship conference International Petroleum Week. And in March we launched this brand-new member magazine, New Energy World, bringing together the latest news, features and comment across the entire energy sector. 

 

We’ll soon be publishing our 2022 Energy Barometer, providing valuable insights on the current crisis from our members. And our plans over the next decade will see the EI seeking to increase its impact, both here in the UK and in other geographies through our global network of Fellows and Members.

 

3: Enabling industry and consumers to make energy lower carbon, safer and more efficient

The EI’s Good Practice programme brings together technical experts from over 50 leading energy companies, regulators and academics to develop leading practices, ranging from human factors in safety, offshore wind safety through the G+ programme and cutting-edge work in carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen. This body of work will continue to grow in terms of both scope, partners and geographic reach, as we seek to make a positive difference to the energy industry.

 

And beyond these three strategic themes, we are undertaking a digital transformation to improve the online experience for all our members, as well as increasing the efficiency of our systems behind the scenes. 

 

A year into my time at the Energy Institute, I could not be more privileged or happier to be leading the wonderful team, under the ever-wise guidance of our Council* and working with the many members who volunteer their precious time. I have learnt that forecasting the ups and downs of the energy sector is rarely wise, but what I will say with some confidence is that the Energy Institute is on the right path and together we will make a positive difference. 

 

*At the EI’s AGM on 6 July there will be a special discussion between EI President Steve Holliday FREng FEI and EI President-Elect Juliet Davenport OBE HonFEI about the future direction of the EI and the energy sector. This is a member-only event; register to attend in person or online here.

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