Steven Fawkes, Founder and Principal, Energy Pro
“We are living in different times, where smart technologies and enlightened policies can make a difference in reducing energy consumption.”
– Steven Fawkes, Energy Pro
Steven Fawkes, Founder and Principal, Energy Pro; Trustee, National Energy Foundation; and Member of Investment Committee, London Energy Efficiency Fund, Steven has thirty years’ experience in energy management programmes for local authorities, advised governments, and has worked with major corporates on energy efficiency opportunities.
Steven Fawkes Webinar Highlights
- The European energy scene is very different. Europe’s 28 countries have a GDP a bit bigger than the US, and an energy consumption about 70% of that of the US.
- The big issue in Europe today is energy security. We talk about the “energy trilemma” where we balance energy costs, the environment, and energy security.
- Probably 2-3 years ago the environment was higher up the agenda than anything else, but in the past few years – in light of Russia’s actions – energy security is at the top of the agenda. Europe imports something like 40% of its gas from Russia, and overall Europe spends 500-billion Euros a year on Russian energy. That percentage of energy is getting bigger, not smaller. Every day, we more or less package up a billion Euros and send it to Russia, which doesn’t seem to be a particularly smart move.
- The EU’s energy policy is captured in the phrase: 20:20:20, which means a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emission, 20% of renewable energy, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, all by 2020. This is a powerful vision.
- The smart city agenda overlaps with the energy agenda because energy is one of the major areas that can be impacted. In the 468 major cities in Europe, at least 50% of them have at least one smart city initiative. I would question how smart some of these initiatives are, but there are so many that good things will happen.
- A lot of this is hype or marketing and there are many barriers to having smart city activity happen. The first is the cities lacking the financial and technical management capacity to develop sensible projects and business plans. Cities have had very deep cuts in their budgets and they find it hard to do the essential things they have to do, let alone the smart city activity.
- Some examples where things have succeeded, include Peterborough in the U.K. It has a population of 186,000 people, and is the UK’s fastest-growing city. It developed “Peterborough DNA”, a gigabit network complete with visualization tools from IBM. On the energy front they have been a real pioneer, creating their own energy services company called Blue Skies Peterborough, combining strong leadership with an entrepreneurial team of people to execute the vision. They are interested in not only helping people save energy, but in generating income. They established a partnership with Honeywell and British Gas to do retrofitting in government buildings and people’s housing. They got together 40,000 consumers into a collective purchasing scheme where they collectively bought electricity and gas. Using information from smart meters, you can buy energy more intelligently. Then they went on to do rooftop solar. Putting all that together, what they are doing now is setting up their own energy supply company. This is ‘back to the future”, because in 1947 we had 640 energy supply companies and most were owned by the local authorities.
- They have also created a ‘green cluster’ and attracted environmental and energy efficiency business into Peterborough. They have added training and skills proficiency programs.
- The key issues are first, the development gap: a gap of money, finance, time and expertise, where you need to go from these great visions to realizable projects. The second issue is business model – we need as much innovation in the business model as we do technical innovation. The business models are not always there to support the technology. Finally, we need to bring it all together with social objectives.
- Bristol is another great example where they are doing similar things, moving towards their own energy company, setting up a smart grid, and so on. Cambridge and Glasgow are other examples.
- In sum, Europe has some incredibly difficult energy challenges – more so than in North America – and what is needed is that driver from the top: the CEO, the Mayor, whoever is in charge. They need to push the vision and bring people onboard.
- In response to a question on the impact of the drop in the price of oil: it will not be much of a deterrent to energy programs, because the price fundamentally is under upwards pressure, and the energy security issue will always be there.