Because the picture is complex, with so many variables and uncertainties, no one can predict exactly what the future of energy will look like, but through our scenario planning we explore and present the choices we face as a society. We do this partly to guide our own engineering work, partly to inspire debate and advance public thinking about what might be done.
Every energy source involves trade-offs. Some are wholly environmental: for instance the zero emissions of nuclear energy versus the issues surrounding radioactive waste storage. Some are practical: how do you align the natural ebb and flow of wind power with the quite different cycles of consumer demand?
We will continue to create engineering solutions, opening new possibilities. We will not make the political or economic decisions that will shape our options, but we will continue to inject our engineering expertise to help ensure those decisions are well-informed.
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
Engineers are often modest people, more interested in solving problems than shouting about what they achieve. But great engineering doesn’t happen in isolation. It builds on the insights and ideas of other engineers, so it’s important that those ideas get promoted, and in particular, that rising generations of young people are inspired to make their own contribution.
That’s why we were a founding donor to The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, a biennial £1m international prize which celebrates outstanding advances in engineering, advances that have created significant benefit to humanity.
Future energy scenarios
It's our role as engineers to enable choices rather than constrain them. It's part of our role as a business to inform and inspire those choices. Through our Future Energy Scenarios we bring together experts in many disciplines to debate where we’re going, and how the choices we make now could influence our future. We publish the results annually, to inform and take forward ideas about what might be possible.
The future of energy debate (Hay Festival Battle of Ideas)
The UK has set itself the target of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Science and engineering has an important role, but reductions on that scale have political, social and economic implications. At the 2014 Hay Festival we worked with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to stage a public debate, The British Energy Challenge, to highlight these choices, and consider how we might move forward. You can find out more about what was said here, where you’ll also find links to DECC’s 2050 Calculator and can explore the trade-offs yourself.
Powering Britain’s future
Over the next decade, we’ll be stepping up our work to modernise and improve the country’s energy infrastructure – a crucial part of ensuring that we can continue to enjoy energy that’s safe and affordable in a sustainable way. Building that new infrastructure will affect our landscape and communities across the country. We believe that involving as many people as possible in these decisions and building wide consensus is the best way forward. We want to work together to help find solutions to some of the challenges we face.