The Future of Energy: Mr Tony Hayward - September 10th 2019
I was privileged to be invited by the Worshipful Company of Fuellers to this lecture on The Future of Energy. The speaker, Mr Tony Hayward had a most impressive CV. A geologist by training preceded a distinguished career in the energy industry, most notably as a former CEO of BP, and currently Chairman of Glencore. The career included many postings abroad, including a multi year spell in China, and resulted in no less than five honorary degrees.
In a talk replete with facts and figures, Tony discussed the many challenges we faced in meeting a massively increasing world-wide demand for energy caused by population growth and improving standards of living, whilst protecting the environment and keeping the lights on.
Discussion centred around the respective roles of Government and industry, highlighting the risks of Political directives with unintended consequences (diesel anyone?) versus incentive frameworks. Some surprising facts emerged.
- The USA has achieved a much higher percentage fall in carbon dioxide emissions as has Germany due to bad policy decisions in the latter country.
- With increased energy demand, despite all the good intentions, carbon dioxide emissions are still increasing at a fast rate.
- The growth in electric car usage was going to add massive electricity demand problems, both in sheer volume, but also in demand smoothing ( the modern equivalent to the old problem of all the kettles going on at the same mid-evening ad break!)
- Gas, with half the carbon dioxide emissions of even 'clean coal', still had a significant role in meeting demand, and coping with dips in renewable supply, going forward.
In overall summary the speaker suggested the ideal way forward was for Governments to set 'Energy Frameworks' (the Japanese strategy mandating 25% energy generation for each of gas, coal, nuclear and sustainable was held up as a model) and then for industry to meet those requirements, with, perhaps some incentivisation. A carbon tax was believed to be potentially helpful.
The session concluded with a very lively Q&A and discussion, to be followed by a very sociable evening of drinks and finger buffet.
Altogether a very stimulating and thought provoking evening.