The President’s Reception is an annual occurrence in the ADE events calendar, and is a firm favourite for those who attend. This year’s reception was held on the evening of Tuesday 14th July, with attendees from across the decentralised energy sector. Current events meant that we were forced to get creative, hosting our guests on Zoom rather than with the customary lunch at the House of Lords. As an alternative celebration, after some thought and with kind support from event sponsor, Vattenfall Heat, we were delighted to partner with Coolhurst Vineyards to provide each attendee with a bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé to enjoy during the reception.
ADE Head of Policy, Caroline Bragg, opened the Reception and welcomed guests. She suggested that the event was a chance for ADE members to come together and celebrate the resilience shown by the sector after the challenges of the past few months. Collaboration and resilience will be more important than ever for the decentralised and low carbon energy sectors as we look towards the future and a green recovery.
Carol Aitken, Public and Regulatory Affairs Adviser then spoke on behalf of event supporter, Vattenfall Heat. Carol leads on a number of policy areas, including heat and hydrogen and is member of advisory board at the Centre for Energy Policy at Strathclyde University and a non-executive board member of Energy Action Scotland. Echoing many of Caroline’s thoughts, Carol also mentioned the role low carbon heat technologies will play in a green recovery.
Caroline then had the pleasure of introducing the ADE’s new President Elect, Lord Duncan of Springbank, who will soon take over from long-standing ADE President, Lord Risby. Lord Duncan was formerly Minister for Climate Change in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and minister in the Northern Ireland Office, and maintains a keen interest in environmental, energy and climate change policy. He spoke candidly about the ongoing need for collective action on climate change from individuals, businesses, and government, again reiterating the role that energy will play in a just transition. Lord Duncan then took a number of questions from the audience. Speaking on how decentralised energy can take advantage of the economic recovery from Covid-19, he stressed the importance of developing the supply chains of low carbon technologies such as heat, energy efficiency and wind to the point where they are able to attract and re-skill those who may have lost jobs due to the pandemic. When considering the role the ADE can play in this, Lord Duncan felt that we should prioritise public awareness of the energy transition, and empowering its member companies to work with energy users to make informed decisions about how and where to engage with the energy system.
Passing on to a fellow Parliamentarian, we then heard from guest speaker Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, and Chair of the BEIS Select Committee. Darren also reflected on how the just transition is now longer a compartmentalised issue, and that ADE members should be leading the charge. Local solutions for local problems will key, and will help to create resilient, relevant supply chains and jobs. Speaking on issues very pertinent to the ADE membership, Darren said that energy efficiency, low carbon heat and domestic flexibility will be vital for efficient roll out of a future-proof energy system. Taking questions from the audience on how we can better enable local diversity of energy solutions, but balancing this with the need for central leadership, Darren felt that government should devolve powers for local solutions where possible, but that Government and Select Committees could better work together to enable collaboration and progress. Darren’s closing message was that quality and the consumer should be central to any new projects, and that both government and business have a role in enforcing this.
To bring the event to a close, Caroline called on attendees to continue to lead in their efforts towards a just transition, and to ensure that users were central in those efforts. We must capitalise on the momentum behind the Green Recovery, and ensure that we continue to do things better, rather than going back to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Finally, Caroline extended thanks on behalf of the ADE and our members to out going president, Lord Risby, for his time, support and guidance over his years as President.