Doing things better together - the key to unlocking energy transformation

CH Square
Christina Horspool
VP of Sustainability & Climate Action

Last month, our VP of sustainability and climate action, Christina Horspool, spoke at the Westminster Energy Forum’s annual Energy Innovation Seminar. Below, she shares her thoughts following the event, and how collaboration across industry will be key in unlocking energy transition.

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to share a stage with the director of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which is what happened last month at the Westminster Energy Forum’s annual Energy Innovation Seminar.

With just five minutes to shine a light on X-Academy, I needed to urge the room to help us scale our impact. My talk was focused on doing more of what we are already doing; creating more jobs; retaining more talent; reskilling and upskilling more people. In some ways, it was also about highlighting or reminding the room that innovation is not always about technology, but about doing things better together. This was a theme which threaded through more than one of the other talks.

In some ways, the session was both thought-provoking and sobering. It was very quickly reiterated that we rapidly need to accelerate technology development, something I think everyone working in this space already appreciates, and that we need to increase the pace of both consenting and installing the infrastructure because we are not on target for 2030.

It was recognised that to do this we must focus on permits and policy; with legislation and strong policy coming through in a few discussions as critical to both drive investment and increase the pace at which projects go from concept to operational. With the sober reminder that we need to move quickly to maximise the energy transition opportunity or lose out to other countries. More positively, we heard that the investment is affordable and there are promising opportunities across the UK.

Damitha Adikaari discussed how the UK is investing in n NetZero innovation, but there was little said on how government might increase the pace or transform the process of consenting and building priority projects.

In addition, we heard and discussed activities from organisations such as Innovate UK, the £385m Advanced Nuclear Fund, and Mission Innovation. Lucy Wood presented some innovative case studies from Stantec including their SmartER mobility case study and AI-enabled smart socket trial and many others. Throughout, it was very apparent there is a desire to direct investment to the meaningful initiatives transforming energy and delivering positive impact and, in many cases, it really is about getting the ideas and innovations connected to the funding and enablers that are out there or ‘doing things better together’. We couldn’t escape the need for behavioural shift and in some instances how innovation means a transformational change of processes and approaches. There was much talk on the critical need to consider social, economic and environmental factors holistically in our communities, energy systems and innovations. A big focus of ours at X-Academy.

It was a pleasure to have five minutes to bring skills and people front and centre of the conversation. Living and working in energy in Aberdeen has probably put a huge spotlight on this for me personally. The opportunity and the challenge, the need to use skills, people and jobs to drive the transition.

On the day I took a moment to highlight that this opportunity isn’t unique to Aberdeen, or the north east of Scotland. It’s common in every city, town, and community. From offshore wind engineers, to heat pump manufacturing, to electric charging infrastructure designers, new jobs and skills are required nationally. These jobs are required to drive the transition.

Share this article