the energy conundrum was discussed at TUoS alumni event at the Royal Society

The energy conundrum with TUoS alumni at the Royal Society by Guy Mayneord

In 2015, Grantham Scholars Guy Mayneord and Oleksandra Korychenska went to a University of Sheffield alumni event at The Royal Society to discuss ‘the energy conundrum’. Here, Guy looks at the issues raised.

Sheffield Alumni at the Royal Society

Grantham Scholar Guy Mayneord.
Grantham Scholar Guy Mayneord.

I was lucky enough to attend the Sheffield Alumni event at the Royal Society: ‘The Energy Conundrum’.

The event hosted some of the University of Sheffield’s best, who had moved their careers down to London. It was a brilliant opportunity to inform alumni of the Grantham Centre’s work. And to pique the interest of people from a range of industries and backgrounds. It was helped along by the free wine and canapés!

The evening’s main focus was the panel discussion on where humanity may be heading in terms of climate change. And what can be done to achieve a more sustainable society in the future. With COP21 also happening in Paris, the timing of this talk could not have been more fitting.

The panel on the energy conundrum

The panel included Dr Brian Gilvary, BP’s group chief financial officer and board director. Also speaking was Grantham Ambassador Teresa Hitchcock, a partner at DLA Piper LLP and the organisation’s national head of safety, health and environment. Our VC Professor Sir Keith Burnett also took part. And Grantham Centre director Tony Ryan.

It was chaired fantastically by Professor Marie Kinsey. Maria Kinsey is the joint head of the Department of Journalism Studies,

With such a diverse mix, the evening was sure to raise many of the important issues of the day.

What role do institutions have in the energy problem?

The debate started with a question from Grantham Scholar Oleksandra Korychenska, who researches energy.

She asked what role universities, companies and the government have in changing customer behaviour and attitudes towards energy consumption.

As a result of Oleksandra’s question, a discussion was had about the constraints on the efficiency of renewable energy. For example, the storage of generated energy, as often the main capture point (such as solar panels absorbing light in the day) is not the main time for its use (such as powering lights at night).

You can find out more about energy and timing in a blog by another Grantham Scholar. Read: Steering energy demand in the right direction by Katie Sumner.

We can’t keep relying on fossil fuels

Fundamentally though, the main theme of the night was our dependence on fossil fuels, and the unsustainability of this.

Tony Ryan said that if the world were to aspire to live as America does, we would require 11 planets worth of resources, or 3 if we were to live like the United Kingdom.

Being invited to this event was exciting for me as it made me consider the wider applications of my research and the importance of the Grantham Centre. It also allowed me to meet people with a range of backgrounds, who all shared a common interest. The fact that climate change is being recognised across at COP21 by many world leaders means hopefully some long-term solutions will be put into action.

More on alumni at the Royal Society

In 2016 Jonas Cromwell went along to the University of Sheffield alumni event at the Royal Society, where he ate insects and learned about feeding 10 billion. Here Jonas fills us in on what he learned. Read: Eating insects and feeding 10 billion: TUoS alumni at the Royal Society by Jonas Cromwell.

Edited by Claire Moran. Main image is from Pexels.