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Imperial College hosts first London Clean Energy Roundtable

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-Montreux Energy
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By Laura Gallagher
Friday 15 April 2005

The world's need for cleaner energy was the topic of discussion when senior executives from across the world converged on Imperial College London last week. Representatives of organisations ranging from multinational energy companies and investment banks to finance houses and small technology start-ups met to discuss the challenges and opportunities as energy systems change.

Organised by Dr Tariq Ali, of Imperial's Energy & Environment Office, Michael Klein, Tanaka Business School and Montreux Energy, the event took place in the Tanaka Business School over two days starting on 7 April. A variety of issues were addressed by an invited group of delegates from as far afield as India, China, and the United States.

Members of the roundtable

Discussions focussed on current and future science and technology innovations for cleaner energy systems; the future of hydrocarbons and the potential of clean technologies; and the barriers and challenges facing financial institutions considering investing in the development and commercialisation of energy technology.

'Gamechanger' talks by two eminent professors were highlights of the roundtable. Sir Richard Friend (Cambridge University) spoke on the potential of nanotechnology and in particular organic solar cells, and David Klug (Imperial), discussed the potential impact of biotechnology, describing what can be learnt from nature and what it may lead to, for example, the engineering of artificial photosynthesis.

Dr Julia King

Dr Ali said: "The event was a great success and with such a range of participants, everyone took away something different. Many of the delegates from the finance side had been unaware of what was on the horizon in terms of cleaner energy technologies. They took away a better understanding of some of the issues and opportunities around these. Generally, participants recognised that more funding needs to be channelled into technologies and companies in their early stages in order that they can develop and reach the marketplace."

Key participants from the College included Sir Richard Sykes, Rector; Dr Julia King, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering; Professor David Begg, Principal of Tanaka Business School; Susan Searle, MD, Imperial Innovations and Professor David Gann, Director, Innovation Studies Centre. Revenue raised from the event will go towards energy-related scholarships at the College.