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Uni of Nottm: The transition of energy systems: can the developing world leap-frog the fossil economy (EU sustainable energy week)

21 June, 2017, 7:15 pm

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In this talk, Mike Stephenson will describe some past energy transitions, show how important the developing world is to our energy and climate change ambitions and briefly foray into the strange world of ‘unburnable carbon’.

Energy systems emerge, become dominant, and then fade.  Transitioning from the current ‘oil economy’ to a lower carbon intensity renewables economy is the one of the biggest challenges for the modern world.  Alongside challenges such as communicable diseases and urbanisation.  Our modern transition is imperative since to offset climate change momentum, modern society needs to act earlier than many of the most serious environmental changes appear.  Apart from being a difficult sell to a partly sceptical public, this also needs careful planning and a good understanding of past transitions.

The latest forecasts indicate that the developing world’s role is crucial and also an unknown quantity.  Will the developing world undergo a ‘fossil revolution’ like the developed world’s industrial revolution?  Or will it leap-frog fossil fuels to renewables, like with landline telephones?  Or will it develop a hybrid with renewables coupled with so-called load-following gas power?

Mike Stephenson is Director of Science and Technology at the British Geological Survey.  He has done research in the Middle East and Asia.  This includes highlights in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq.  Mike also runs the Science Programme at BGS, the UK’s national geoscience and data centre, directing 520 scientists and technologists.  Moreover, he has professorships at Nottingham and Leicester universities.  He has also published two books and over 80 peer-reviewed papers.  His recently published book ‘Shale gas and fracking: the science behind the controversy’ won an ‘honourable mention’ at the Association of American Publishers PROSE awards in Washington DC.  The PROSE Awards annually recognise the very best in professional and scholarly publishing.

Mike Stephenson regularly represents UK science interests in energy, as well as providing extensive advice to the UK Government.  For example in October 2013 he was shale gas and carbon capture and storage (CCS) advisor to Sir Mark Walport, Chief UK Government Scientific Advisor, on a fact-finding mission to Texas and Alberta.  In addition, he gave evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs inquiry into shale gas in Oct 2013.

Further information and registration

Indeed, this energy lecture is part of a series of events taking place to celebrate EU Sustainable Energy Week: #UoNEnergyWeek.  Since this is a free event, demand for places is expected to be high.  So don’t delay, register today.

In addition, this event is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.  This event is classed as State Aid to participating businesses, but is delivered completely free of charge.  Furthermore, to receive more information about the programme, please either contact the University of Nottingham or view the full programme.

This event takes place in room C18 of the Pope building: number 27 on the University Park map; find directions and Sat Nav postcode.

Other events

During the week, there will be a number of other events supporting EU Sustainable Energy Week, including:


University of Nottingham – main campus
University Park, University of Nottingham
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire NG7 2QX United Kingdom
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