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UK Energy to 2050

What this conference is about

Britain is no longer self sufficient in energy. The gap between energy demand and indigenous supply is set to grow. Closing that gap through a combination of reducing demand and increasing supply is the overriding challenge for policy makers in the coming years. In an arena that is dominated by single-issue agendas, closing the energy gap will demand a complicated mixture of solutions that involves a wide range of academic disciplines, combining science and social science.

To promote an integrated approach to energy policy making, a group of leading organizations has commissioned a series of seminars in the autumn of 2005, to bring together the UK’s leading scientists, economists and social scientists, representing both institutions and industry. This reaches a climax at the Royal Society on 10 November 2005. This will be a rare occasion, to meet a rare need for cooperation and innovation.

Five key questions can be framed in the search for solutions:
  • DEMAND - Looking first to 2020, then on to 2050, what will the UK requirements for energy be by type, and to what extent will energy efficiency and other measures curb trends in demand? Chairmen: Martin Fry, Shaun Fitzgerald,
  • FOSSIL FUELS - What part will each of the fossil fuels play in supplying energy demand, and how will the fossil-fuel industry respond to the need to reduce emissions from not only its own activities, but also those of its customers? Chairman: David Jenkins
  • NUCLEAR - What actions would need to be taken - and by whom - for the nuclear industry to generate economically competitive energy, acceptable on safety and environmental grounds? Chairman: Feroze Duggan
  • RENEWABLES - How much of our total energy requirements can renewables be expected to provide, in light of the White Paper statement that the price of energy should allow us to maintain our competitive advantage as a nation? Chairman: Jeremy Legget
  • IMPACT - As we strive to meet the targets in the White Paper, how will the consequential changes in energy production be made culturally and politically acceptable in the UK? Chairman: Ian Fells
The integrated nature of the overall solution requires that these questions be considered in parallel, with explicit feedback loops to both energy demand and to societal impact.


The following articles were originally published as curtain-raisers to the conference in the Society's monthly colour news magazine Geoscientist and were written by the conference's conveners. They are intended to provide a factual and philosophical background to the sessions listed above. The first piece, by Bryan Lovell, instigator of the March 2003 Burlington House meeting on Coping with Climate Change, sets out the general background.

Advisory Board

Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Professor Charles Curtis, Professor David Cope, Sir John Lawton, John Loughhead

General Chairman

Richard Hardman