Press Office


Newcastle University sparks debate on energy policy at Labour Conference


Newcastle University brought together policymakers, academics, industry representatives and campaign groups at its Labour Party Conference Fringe Event this week to discuss the reforms needed to establish an affordable, secure and sustainable energy market.

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central and University Court member, who was chairing the event, said that the debate was very timely, with energy affordability and security top of the political agenda, and commended Newcastle University for using its research excellence to contribute to the discussion.

Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Sustainability, explained the need to balance decarbonisation through renewable technologies with demand reduction and highlighted the work the University is involved in to develop better energy storage systems. He also said there was a need for an independent system architect that is not shackled to political or business cycles to take a holistic look at energy policies.

Baroness Bryony Worthington, Shadow Spokesperson on Energy and Climate Change in the House of Lords, provided an overview of Labour’s energy policy, including proposals to replace Ofgem with a more powerful regulator focused on transparency and competition, and create an Energy Security Board to input into policymaking.

Trevor Hutchings, Director of Advocacy at WWF-UK, echoed Professor Taylor’s comments on the importance of demand reduction. He quoted estimates that there are 22 power stations’ worth of energy efficiency measures to be realised in the UK alone and called for the next Government to commit to increased retrofitting.

Speaking after the event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Internationalisation Professor Richard Davies said: “Newcastle University strives to have excellence with impact, using our research to support economic, social and cultural development. We are working to address some of the biggest challenges facing society, including that of energy and sustainability.

“The issues facing society are complex and multi-faceted, requiring collaboration and action from academics, politicians, civil society and businesses alike. It is vital that a range of perspectives and the creativity of the best brains are used to develop policy decisions. This is why we are proud to have hosted such an important event at the Labour Party Conference.”

Newcastle University recently published an energy policy briefing paper that includes further details on the points Professor Taylor raised at the event.

Newcastle University will also be hosting events at the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party Conferences.

published on: 26 September 2014