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The change in mindset around energy sparked by the pandemic

For the optimist, there are a few small positives to have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Around energy, those have included a change in mindset surrounding the shift to new, cleaner technologies, such as hydrogen power.

Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director and Professor of the Thornton Energy Institute at the University of Chester, is one such optimist.

Recently announced as a speaker at our PSE Net-Zero Government virtual event, he sees the future outlook for UK energy consumption and production as ambitious but attainable, even despite the virus, provided we as a country, society and united public sector take prompt action.

When asked about the decarbonisation agenda and what benefits it could bring the to the region, Professor Howe saw a clear picture of the future. For him, the industry was heading firmly towards three areas of growth in order to support the UK achieving its first zero carbon cluster by 2040.

“[These are] carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), hydrogen and fuel switching.”

As with the rest of society, energy transition plans have found themselves impacted by Covid-19. With many schemes working interconnectedly with private investors, the virus and its consequent economic impacts represent a potential stumbling block to many schemes.

Yet, Joe remains optimistic here too.

“It is possible [there will be challenges]. However, as a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, I actually feel as though the pandemic has accelerated the energy transition and private investors are giving serious consideration to it.”

For him, there had to be progress made in 2021 for these ambitions to become a reality and momentum seized. Most pressing of all was “ensuring all three components of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge have commenced work”.

The Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge is a UK Government-run scheme which will support the deployment of technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen networks in industrial clusters, supporting the Industrial Clusters Mission to establish the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040.

It was one of the driving reasons behind Professor Howe’s involvement with our PSE event, the first in our year-long festival of public sector events and coverage. For him, offering his voice to the platform was the perfect way to work with delegates to “align in support of our [zero carbon] cluster being one of the first to be deployed”.

Engage with Joe and a host of other expert speakers at our PSE Net-Zero Government virtual event. Sign up now and gain access to our whole year-long festival of public sector learning.

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