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UK’s leading energy experts gather in Falmouth

Following the success of last year’s energy conference the University of Exeter will be staging another world-class event in Falmouth on 24 and 25 May.

The conference, ‘The Low Carbon Transition Plan: Pathways to Change’ will play host to some of the highest profile speakers ever gathered at a public conference on energy policy in the South West.

The UK’s strategy for achieving 80% cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 has been set out in a Low Carbon Transition Plan, and energy production and use will play the key role in its delivery.  The conference has a strong emphasis on networking, and will provide a forum to identify and discuss key issues for energy systems arising from the Plan, and identify solutions to ensure the strategy delivers on its aims.  It will discuss the UK’s energy policy and how best to approach the transformation required to move towards sustainable energy systems. Workshops will get to grips with topics such as financing the transition, energy security and the role of communities. Delegates from all sectors are invited, with strong representation expected from industry, non-governmental organisations, academia and regional government.

Speakers will be headlined by Jonathon Brearley, Director of Energy Strategy and Futures at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He will be joined at the opening session by Professor Jim Skea OBE, the Head of the UK Energy Research Centre, a Member of the Climate Change Committee and the board of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also speaking are Damian Carrington, Head of Environment at the Guardian, Gordon Mackerron, Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Steve Cirell, Programme Director for Green Cornwall.  

The conference will be chaired by Professor Catherine Mitchell, head of the Energy Policy Group at the University of Exeter and a co-ordinating lead author for the IPCC.  She has amongst other things been a member of the UK Government’s Energy Advisory Panel, an international advisor to the New Zealand Governments Energy Review in 2006-7 and worked in the UK Cabinet Office on the 2002 Energy Review . She is currently responsible for policy and regulation within the supply theme of the UK Energy Research Centres Phase 2 and is leading a research council funded research network on Energy Security in a Multipolar World She frequently advises national and international NGOs and other institutions on energy-related issues.

Professor Catherine Mitchell said: “It’s great that Cornwall can attract such a diverse and high profile set of speakers from all over Britain, including Cornwall. The transformation of our energy systems, whether at a local, regional or national level, is fundamental to delivering on our climate change commitments and I’m really looking forward to discussing the key issues with some of the most important decision makers about energy from within the region and nationally.”

Mark Yeoman, Deputy Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, is also speaking at the conference. He said “Cornwall has a strong and proud history of technological innovation. Sustainable energy and low carbon technologies are growing economic sectors and this high profile conference will attract global attention that will help underline the role Cornwall has to play in melding research and business development to take advantage of theses  new economic opportunities.”

The conference is sponsored by SSE, (Scottish and Southern Energy), the largest generator of renewable electricity in the UK with very significant investment in a range of renewable and low carbon technologies. SSE has developed its own Low Carbon Transition Plan which aims to reduce the carbon intensity of its electricity generation mix by 50% by 2020 and to help its customers to better control and reduce consumption from current uses. SSE was the first company to offer a 'better plan'  tariff which provides incentives to households to reduce energy consumption, and is a member of the 10:10 campaign to reduce the UK's carbon emissions by 10% by 2010.

The company has a number of links to the University of Exeter and to the South West of England and has recently opened an office in Exeter which employs 120 staff.

Dr Keith MacLean, SSE's Policy and Public Affairs Director said "SSE is delighted to be sponsoring this year's conference which, with such an excellent range of speakers, promises to offer some really constructive insight into, and debate on, the energy policy challenges the UK faces.

This is the second conference to be staged in what is hoped to become an annual fixture that, in future years, will form the hub of a week-long programme of events on topics around energy production, and its distribution and use.

Date: 24 May 2010

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