With 30 per cent of all the UK’s energy consumed in homes, energy shortages and rolling blackouts will become a real possibility in as little as five years’ time, a sustainable technologies expert will warn tomorrow.Pilgrim Beart, founder of Cambridge energy innovator AlertMe, is delivering a no-nonsense warning at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s annual Clerk Maxwell Lecture tomorrow.
He will assert that fast moving change and the rapid adoption of sustainable technologies is needed to thwart the effects of diminishing energy supplies.
Beart told Business Weekly: “Ten years ago, sustainability was a tree-hugging kind of word. Now everyone has to wake up to the reality of what we are facing. Nature can’t be fooled. It’s like being in a war.
“As a population we are taking energy for granted and will continue to do so as long as the lights stay on. You could plaster the land with windfarms and solar power but it still wouldn’t be as effective as large-scale reduction of consumption.
“It’s a scary scenario and potentially very painful for us as individuals and for the country. Energy is far more fundamental than money. Perhaps when we are sat shivering in the dark the message might be driven home – but it doesn’t have to be like that.
“It’s rational to reduce consumption to avoid the worst, but it seems we are not a rational people. The Government is looking at a new energy efficiency feed in tariff and we need many more innovative incentives to drive and reward energy reduction in our homes.
“It is costing the country a fortune to import power and the fact is those supplies are becoming in increasingly short supply. We need a massive education programme covering every householder in Britain as well as business owners and managers to save energy – to spell out the benefits if we do and the consequences if we don’t.”
At tomorrow’s lecture Beart will urge a huge national wake-up call. He will urge adoption of Amory Lovins’ mantra on ‘NegaWatts – the cheapest watt is the one you don’t have to generate in the first place.’
“While there are many exciting things happening with energy supply as we continue to develop wind, nuclear and hopefully one day fusion technology, right now we need to pay much greater attention to where all this energy goes,” says Beart.
“The bad news is that we use energy very wastefully in our homes. The good news however is that this creates a real opportunity to improve the situation, quickly and at low cost – perhaps even at negative cost.”
Beart will discuss the host of innovations arriving in the home over the next decade including smart meters, electric vehicles, heat pumps and Home Energy Management systems to co-ordinate it all. He will also discuss how the Government and the energy industry must engage with consumers in order to usher in this change successfully.
“Consumers often get forgotten when it comes to change within this industry. The time has come to outreach, educate and empower us all about our energy usage, making us aware of how we can all play our part, protect ourselves from rising bills and be the focal point of this revolution. There is a tremendous challenge here for engineers and technicians,” Beart concluded.
AlertMe has emerged with merit from its own battle. Beart says: “2008 wasn’t a good year but we survived and are much stronger for the experience. We set out to conclude landmark deals with the utilities, with a major telco and in the global retail sector and have now achieved all these targets.
“We did a major deal with a utilities provider in the UK, a landmark deal in Europe with a telco and now in the US a significant transaction in retail.”
Tomorrow’s Clerk Maxwell lecture is free to attend. More details can be found at www.theiet.org/clerk-maxwell
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Pilgrim Beart