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Diary dates, Walport edition

On Friday, Mark Walport is giving a talk at the Natural History Museum in London on the UK's energy future.

We rely on energy to run our homes and power our cars, but the way we get this energy is changing. Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, talks us through everything you need to know about how we could power the UK in the future as part of Science Uncovered.

You'll also have the chance to ask Sir Walport about energy in the UK during a question and answer section that follows his presentation, hosted by the Museum's Head of Earth Sciences, Professor Richard Herrington.

Details here.

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Reader Comments (23)

"Science Uncovered" is such a catchy name and concept, it is the way science should be conducted.

If his talk was "Climate Science Uncovered" he would need half the capacity of the auditorium, simply to store the covers.

Sep 23, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Several years ago I predicted that Britain's "energy" (or more specifically, electricity) future would be nuclear power plants bought in a blind panic and built by the Chinese.

I was quite relaxed about this and it looks as if it may come true .....but unfortunately I omitted to predict the "unbelievably and catastrophically expensive" part of this future.

I am pretty resigned to continuing disproportionate (and unnecessary) increases in energy costs in GB. My aim is to put myself in a position where I am using as little as possible.

There are very few encouraging signs that the "powers that be" are waking up to what is happening.

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I just love this blurb:

We rely on energy to run our homes and power our cars, but the way we get this energy is changing.

How about that. It is just "changing". Like magic.

Or, maybe we are seeing the impact of massive subsidy and regulation forcing us to use energy from different sources.

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Walport is a medic, so could we solve the shortage of doctors by hiring engineers?

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

'Changing' only from coal to gas thus far!

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Or in the developing world - 'changing' from dung to coal.

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It's changing from reliable sources to unreliable sources.

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Sir Walport?

Sep 23, 2015 at 2:51 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Imagine the scene. The starship enterprise has been hit by the Klingon ship, the beorg are waiting to join in. The ship is a wreck and the captain says: "chief scientist - can you give me more power".

ooooowww. Let me see if I can model that using that new $10000000000000 computer I asked you to buy me.

... or perhaps not!

What the UK needs, is not some idiot of geneticist playing at being a "chief scientist" and pontificating about subjects he has no expertise at all to talk about, but instead we need a


Someone who actually knows how the system works and not some twit who thinks reading a book on genetics and wearing a white coat makes them into some god like omniscient person with any qualification to advise on the UK energy system

Sep 23, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Phillip Bratby, Unreliable energy depends on politically unreliable support from unreliable people, financed by the gullible, who have no choice, and guarantees no work for anyone.

Green and unreliable are full interchangeable, in the sentence above, as they are in life, aswell as final failure.

Sep 23, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Sep 23, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Be careful for what you wish, we may end up with Patchy a real engineer ;)

Sep 23, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Getting the Chinese (or anyone else) to build a new nuclear power station for Britain should be looked on as a national disgrace.
British science and engineering once could take a project like that in its stride.

We are now in the process of dismantling a perfectly good power system organised and implemented by our own nationalised power industry.

We have long enjoyed cheap and reliable power, but that is all coming to an end.

The countless 'Arthur Daily' solar power installers lobby their MP's to keep the subsidies rolling on and seem to be knocking on an open door.

Meanwhile Osbourne 'guarantees' a loan rather than actually making the loan just to keep it off the government borrowing books will mean that consumers will pay much more than they need to.
Contracts for difference and PFI's all end up with deferred liabilities at far greater cost than straightforward government investment.

Sep 23, 2015 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan


The power to control an economy, now comes from controlling the power supplied to the economy.

We are now reliant on windmills, whose ouput we can't control, or nuclear whose controllers we may not be able to control.

Either way, it is a leap of faith. I have more faith in nuclear

Sep 23, 2015 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

" ... the UK's energy future."

If only it had one.

Sep 23, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Wonder if he will be on this message from DECC?
"This isn't something which will simply happen overnight, it will take time as we start to move to more renewable and low carbon energy sources. There is a big challenge in how we get from where we are today – dependent on coal and gas for over 50% of our energy – to a low carbon future. Moving from coal to gas would make a huge contribution to reducing our carbon footprint, and is the 'bridge' we need for many years to come.

The anti-fracking lobby seem to think there is a bottomless pit of bill-payers' money to fund renewable energy generation. There isn't, and even if there was, we would still need gas – as a reliable source of electricity when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.

Even as our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity reduces, we will still need to use gas for heating and cooking in our homes and for producing products including soap, paint, clothes and plastic.

The Task Force on Shale Gas was clear about this, stating that "it is not feasible to create a renewable and low carbon industry in the short term in the UK that can meet the UK's energy needs as a whole."

This means that gas will continue to play a big part in our energy mix for years to come and that's why the Government is looking into the opportunity of using home-grown shale gas supplies instead of relying on overseas imports."

Sep 23, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

Mick J: there is a direct link to the DECC blog site in the “Seen elsewhere” section. It is interesting in that it generally goes along the path most of us are following; what is depressing is the comments – so many are the usual mantra from the useful idiots, you can only bury your face in your hands.

Sep 23, 2015 at 9:53 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

dennisa - should be "Dr Sir Walport"?.

Sep 23, 2015 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

RR. Noted.

I visited the DECC page via GWPF and left with a similar reaction.

Sep 23, 2015 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

Radical Rodent & Mick J

Thanks for the link to the DECC. Excellent news that the DECC have learnt how to do sums and stuff. Hopefully some senior staff have sought new pastures to grow their energy policy.

Amber has seen the light for go, and it was neither Green, nor Red.

Sep 24, 2015 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Actually Patchy is not an engineer, he's an engineering economist, whatever the he** that is, likely someone who failed out of an engineering degree program.

Sep 24, 2015 at 3:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

The new nukes cannot be built, tested and grid connected until at least 10 years time.

From 2016 there will be ~10% load shedding on the grid. Perhaps half that can be achieved by industrial closures. However, the rest will fall on heavily populated areas where the switchgear can have concentrated effect.

That means the cities. That means concentrated votes. Come on strategically retarded Cameron, even you can understand this.....:o)

Sep 24, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Those palpably bogus numbers from the IMF about so-called fossil fuel 'subsidies' keep being repeated by people who know the reality that we all rely on fossil fuels to benefit every aspect of our daily lives and that here in the West we already pay substantial tax on fossil fuels so there cannot possibly be a net subsidy by any stretch of the imagination. That report followed a similar report from the World Bank and the abject tripe from Nordhaus, Stern and several other economists who all seem to inhabit the same reality distortion zone. All economists should - at the very least - know that economic growth thus far in the industrial age has been inextricably linked to fossil fuel use - whether they like it or not. It is even a direct relationship!

And this after mainstream economists acted as cheerleaders for the toxic-debt-fuelled financial crisis and previous disastrous neo-liberalist experiments in latin America and Yeltsin's Russia. Yet despite all these numerous failings of their overly-simplistic models and even in basic common sense, these clowns are still relied upon to influence government policy worldwide. We therefore have to conclude that it is really the modern economics profession that has emerged as the main barrier to the well-being of the worlds population - not the greens, daffy uber-pessimistic scientists, neo-Malthusians or Marxists.

Sep 24, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

If you lined up all the World's economists head to toe, on the ground, they would never reach a conclusion.

Sep 24, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

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