Energy System Catapult launches with focus on whole system thinking


The need to focus on ‘whole system thinking’ took centre stage at the launch of the Energy Systems Catapult in front of nearly 300 energy sector stakeholders in London.

Catapult chief executive Philip New opened proceeding by signing an agreement with the launch hosts, the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) alongside counterpart Nigel Fine. With the two organisations looking  to work more closely together in the future, following the successful  Future Power Systems Architecture programme.

Head of Business Development, Nick Smailes, then led a panel debate focusing on Whole Energy System Thinking. Our panellists all argued for different needs related to a whole energy system. With almost a third of the votes, Prof Janette Webb’s argument on ‘the need for further whole system research and modelling in heat’ won the approval of the delegates. There were multiple suggestions for other topics, research questions and areas that we should consider including, financial / investment models, ensuring customer / consumer engagement, using demonstrators to de-risk investment and ensuring that future systems are capable of adaption / evolution – all of which will be part of our thinking going forward.

The next session, delivered by Paul Jordan, our Head of Strategy Development and Business Planning, focused on our new five-year delivery plan. Then Eric Brown (Interim Head of Strategy and Innovation) and Dr Simon Harrison, Chair of the FPSA Project Delivery Board gave an update on the conclusions of the Future Power Systems Architecture project. Grant Bourhill (Director, Smart Systems and Heat) wrapped up the afternoon with a short presentation on the Smart Systems and Heat programme that we are successfully delivering on behalf of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

Keynote speeches

After a short break, Energy Systems Catapult Chairman Nick Winser gave a brief welcome to the keynote speakers. Our first speaker was Professor Sir David King, Special Representative for Climate Change. Sir David spoke of how energy transformation is the biggest opportunity since the industrial revolution. Matthew Bell, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change then followed, setting out a number of issues that needed addressing, such as ‘how do we reduce the cost of carbon capture?’, ‘how and where are we going to use hydrogen?’ and ‘what’s going to happen on the demand side?’.

Catapult CEO Philip New then closed out the evening by looking back on a thought-provoking day. He underlined that although the challenge ahead may be considerable, with the energy and commitment he has seen, it is one that is entirely possible.

Published: 19 May 2016