Consumers vs capital - the real future of energy in the UK

The pressing need to decarbonise our energy system to mitigate climate change has brought an array of new technologies to market, with rapidly changing economics providing consumers with real choices. So what does the future hold for The UK energy market?

Go to the profile of Jade Taylor-Salazar
Jul 14, 2017
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IET President’s address 2017

5 October 2017 | IET London: Savoy Place

In the energy industry there are 3 things we are certain of:

  • Energy is a highly capital-intensive business
  • Government and industry have decided the fate of our energy systems, until now
  • Energy consumers used to be passive, but new technologies have revolutionised that

But just what is happening in the market to make our energy systems take a complete turn?

What are the technologies that are making the consumer voice more prominent and influential?

Where have the energy systems been and where are they going?

The future of energy is in our hands. What are we going to do about it?

Hear from incoming President, Mr Nick Winser CBE, Chair of the Energy Systems Catapult as he discusses what is happening to the energy market, where the pivotal change has come from and where he sees the real future of energy going.

Our energy systems have been developed over many decades, with decisions regarding its shape and technology mix being made by politicians, government officials and senior industry leaders.

Great benefits for consumers have been delivered by this approach which has persisted through and beyond the introduction of wholesale and retail markets across many sectors.

Energy is a highly capital-intensive business with powerful incumbents and areas of natural monopoly. It is likely that a top-down approach will continue to have a role to play, but there are powerful signs emerging that the voice of the energy consumer will start to be heard ever more loudly.

Energy consumers have been relatively passive users of the products and services provided by the industry. For their cars, they can choose a petrol or diesel but both come from oil. For heating, the choice is gas, electricity or oil, but in most cases the availability and overwhelming economic differences make the decision for them.

The pressing need to decarbonise our energy system to mitigate climate change has brought an array of new technologies to market, with rapidly changing economics providing consumers with real choices.

Consumer pull in areas such as electric cars, distributed energy conversion, smart homes, and energy storage may finally allow the customer to be king in energy.  To support this, the energy industry will need an entirely new approach; an ability to innovate quickly to provide new products and services, to invest in infrastructure to support changing customer tastes, and to continually integrate a complex and fast-moving energy system.

The challenges these changes will bring will provide exciting opportunities for our engineers working in the energy sector. They will need to learn how to continue to provide vital public services in a dynamic customer driven environment.

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Go to the profile of Jade Taylor-Salazar

Jade Taylor-Salazar

Supplements editor , Engineering and Technology

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