Utility Week

UTILITY Week 6th November 2015

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6 | 6TH - 12TH NOVEMBER 2015 | UTILITY WEEK People & Opinion I n April of this year, I was invited to join a Commission on Cold, set up by the Uni- versity of Birmingham. I'm in the fortunate position of receiv- ing invites for a variety of think tanks, but I have to confess that I was initially quite sceptical about this one. That's because, during my time as UK executive director at National Grid, I can count the number of conversa- tions we had about 'cold' on the fingers of one hand. There are very good reasons for this. In the UK, we have always regarded ourselves as a relatively cold climate, which emphasises the need for heat. And that's not just within the industry: the many hundreds of reports that tackle energy and climate change also talk about carbon emissions associated with generating heat. But the world has slowly been changing around us. On my shopping list this morning were blueberries and raspber- ries, which I picked up from the supermarket chiller cabi- net. These are available year round and rely on a cold trans- port chain, as does so much of our 21st century diet. Similarly, creeping up on us over the past 30 years has been the amount of heat generated by office comput- ers and datacentres, which also need year-round cooling. The net impact is that the amount of energy used to cool our lives is expected to surge over the next few decades. And yet the current technologies we use for cooling consume large amounts of energy and can be highly polluting. For instance, the refrigeration units on trucks are vastly less efficient than the engines running the vehicles. The UK's climate change tar- get is rightly very ambitious – to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This means that every part of the energy sys- tem has to be addressed – we simply can't afford to have any passengers. A huge challenge will be to find whole system solutions, not just for tomorrow and 2050, but for each and every point in between. The many dif- ferent opportunities for supply- ing low carbon cold will fit well into the need for deep and new thinking on system integration. There are benefits in moving quickly. Providing refrigeration and air conditioning to custom- ers using less energy also has huge potential and effective cold storage can flatten the demand curve or move demand to peri- ods when low carbon power is plentiful. But a number of things have to happen to make it a reality. We need much more academic research into cold energy (as well as other energy innovations such as smart grids and hydro- gen). This will help to put a spot- light on the opportunity. We also need to unleash the UK's innovative minds to bring new technologies to market so that they can be integrated into our system and, crucially, be exported overseas. Cooling is a global issue and is becoming ever more acute across large swathes of the Mid- dle East, the Americas, Africa, India and Asia. If the UK can establish a leadership position in this grow- ing area, the economic and job creation benefits would be substantial. "Customers should not have to fund the unwillingness to innovate by incumbent companies" Sara Bell, chief executive, Tempus Energy. See interview, p8. Percentage of FTSE 100 boards that are now female, according to the latest edition of the Davies report, which tracks progress on gender balance representation on UK boards. This is up from 12.5 per cent in 2010 when the first Davies report was published. BIG NUMBER: £1,000 The average amount added to the annual wage of workers in SSE's supply chain this year thanks to the firm's Living Wage commitment. See news on utilityweek.co.uk View from the top Nick Winser, chairman, Energy Systems Catapult Time to wake up to the cold economy As demand for cooling applications rises, innovation is needed to make the technology more efficient. 12.5% 26% 2015 2010 Proportion of women on the board

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