Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change delivers the Energy Futures Lab Annual Lecture 2008 <em>- News</em>
Wednesday 10 December 2008
By Colin Smith
A senior government minister visited Imperial College London yesterday to deliver his first major speech on UK energy policy.
Ed Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, presented the Energy Futures Lab Annual Lecture 2008, where he outlined the Government’s vision for securing sustainable and affordable energy for the UK.
In his welcome speech to Mr Miliband, the Rector of Imperial, Sir Roy Anderson, said the Government can do most by helping to invest in research and development to generate the novel technologies needed to meet UK carbon reduction targets. As a measure of the College’s own commitment to increasing its investment in novel energy technologies the Rector made an announcement:
“We believe the innovation that industry needs to help solve global energy problems will be generated in the university sector. We will play our part in helping the British Government and industry to be as innovative as possible. As a first step in this commitment, we are expanding the funding and size of the Energy Futures Laboratory so that it can carry out more research in this field.”
Mr Miliband praised the College for its far sightedness in establishing centres such as the Energy Futures Lab. He also stressed the important role that universities can play in developing cleaner energy sources and expressed a desire to work closely with the College.
He then outlined the current energy problems faced by the UK. He said that greater dependence on imported fuels due to dwindling North Sea supplies posed challenges on sustainability, security and affordability which markets on their own cannot be guaranteed to solve. He added:
“In a world where carbon didn’t seem an issue, Britain had excess supply and prices were low, it was easier for these market failures to be assumed away. Today we don’t have that luxury.”
To address these problems, the minister then said that the Government will focus on energy security to ensure supplies over the next decade, while guaranteeing fairness for consumers by playing a strategic role in regulating energy markets to keep prices low. He also said that the Government will set carbon budgets to ensure industry, households and Government meet climate change targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Welcoming the Government’s commitment to setting carbon budgets, Professor Nigel Brandon who is the Director of the Energy Futures Laboratory, said:
“Imperial has a vital role to play in helping the country meet these 2050 targets. I believe major breakthroughs in reducing our emissions will come at the interface between disciplines, hence the need for cross cutting research teams, such as the ones operating at the Energy Futures Laboratory.”
The Energy Futures Laboratory is a focal point for energy research across the College, and aims to play a leading role in setting the energy agenda over the next 20 to 50 years.
It has developed multidisciplinary, cross-faculty research programmes and is working with industry on a range of initiatives. Highlights include a major £4 million project with BP to explore energy savings in cities, and a joint $US 70 million research project with Shell and Qatar Petroleum to develop new processes to store carbon dioxide underground and extract fossil fuels with minimal release of greenhouse gases.
The Energy Futures Lab is also playing a key role in meeting the skills gap across the energy sector with PhD and Masters level training including the new MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures, launched in 2007, and an undergraduate programme to develop fuel cell-battery hybrid race cars.
This is the third year that the Energy Futures Lab has held its annual lecture series, with previous eminent speakers including Sir Roy Gardner, President of the Energy Institute, and Dr Paul Golby, Chief Executive Officer of the energy utility EON.
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