The energy challenge: can we keep the lights on?

Sunday 31 October, 5.30pm until 6.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1

There is increasing awareness that there may be an energy crunch looming over the next ten years, as existing sources of energy such as ageing nuclear power stations go off stream. There is a lack of consensus as how to tackle this problem, however. Some argue for more nuclear power, some for massive investment in renewables; some have even welcomed the recent recession as a curb on our consumption, which may allow us to keep going with existing levels of supply. While there seems to be agreement that any solution must be green, there is a notable lack of urgency about putting solutions in place - actually funding the investment and getting started - and, importantly, a lack of clarity as to just why we need so much energy. Much discussion focuses on increasing energy efficiency (loft insulation and smart metering) but there is much less discussion about the need to increase the absolute amounts of energy available.

Have we really got enough energy? Is it imperative for energy policy to be dictated by concern about carbon emissions, or is there an argument for energy for its own sake, whatever the weather? Few argue that impacts on the climate should be ignored, but should they be the primary driver for policy or a secondary, longer-term, consideration? Just what share of investment should be directed towards ‘clean’ energy production? Or is it incumbent on us all to get over our addiction to oil and start to live more sustainably? What future for energy?

Listen to session audio:


Martin Haigh
energy consultant, Shell; lead consultant, Shell's World Energy Model

Dr Joe Kaplinsky
assistant professor, DTU Nanotech; co-author, Energise! A Future for Energy Innovation

Martin Wright
writer, editor and adviser on environmental solutions and sustainable futures

Alex Hochuli
communications consultant, researcher and blogger based in São Paulo

Produced by
Alex Hochuli communications consultant, researcher and blogger based in São Paulo
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