IBM Start – positive outcomes from the Sustainable Energy day


I have already written about how well the IBM Start event started out – well I wanted to dive a little deeper into one of the days in particular – the Smarter Energy for a Sustainable future day. Why? For me, it was by far the best day of the event.

IBM Start - Building the New Energy System

Why do I say that? A number of reasons –

  1. The speaker list had senior representation from EDF, BP, E.ON UK, British Gas, Water UK, OFGEM, Carbon Trust, Shell, B&Q, National Grid, Central Networks, WWF, Stagecoach, Power Perfector amongst others, as well as representatives from NGO’s, academia and research organisations.
  2. The delegate list was impressive as well and consequently the networking on the day was through the roof and
  3. There was far more audience participation solicited than on any of the other days I attended Start

The discussions themselves were high quality but there were far too many of them happening in parallel – I mean how do you decide between:

  • Building the new Energy System
  • Driven by Demand – Managing the New Infrastructure or
  • New Business Models for Energy in New Economies

I wanted to attend all of them!

Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy at IBM Start

Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy at IBM Start

A real surprise for me was the speech by Charles Hendry. Charles Hendry is the UK’s Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Due to the Chatham House Rule I can’t tell you what he said but what I can say is that his talk was one of the best on the day (and that’s saying a lot!). He was passionate, amazingly knowledgeable about his brief and when he concluded his presentation he opened up to take questions from the floor. I just hope he is given the freedom to carry out all he wants to in his role as minister for Energy and Climate Change!

Finally, the event was called Start, we were told, because people are tired of being told what they can’t do, so the aim of this event was to get people inspired about positive things they can do. Brilliant. To that end the Energy Day was the one day which had the most obvious positive outcome arise. Practical Action, an NGO who were in attendance, proposed the setting up of EnergyAid – an organisation analagous to WaterAid whose mandate would be to supply modern, reliable, clean energy to the world’s poorest people. Fabulous.

If the EnergyAid idea were the only positive outcome of Start, IBM could be extremely proud of the event but doubtless there will be far more positive initiatives come out of the 9 days. Watch this space for more…


European Future Energy Forum – great show, poor turnout?


The European Future Energy Forum opened yesterday in Bilbao. The event is sponsored by the likes of Masdar, Iberdrola Renovables, Siemens and Gamesa with support from the local Basque government and Ente Vasco de la Energia.

The talks have for the most part been really interesting with the biggest problem being which track to choose when the parallel tracks are on. This morning, I went to the two tracks on sustainable transport (which I will write up in another post later) and yesterday I went to the panel discussion on renewable energy. The quality of the speakers is superb with speakers like Rene Umlauft (head of Renewables at Siemens), Robin Chase co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, and Sandrine Dixson-Decleve the Executive Director of the International Sustainable Energy Exchange (ISEE).

The networking opportunities here are immense and I have met some spectacular people doing amazing things in the area of renewable technologies (of which more in following posts as well). But the disappointing thing about the conference has to be the turnout. The organisers were projecting 3,500 delegates. I suspect the actual figure would be closer to half that. Obviously the current economic situation is has big part to play in this. Hopefully, the event will run again because the information exchange here has been immense and if/when it does, I suspect because of the quality of this year’s inaugural European Future Energy Forum, the turnout will be far higher.