“The Path to Energy Systems for the 21st Century”
with Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Strathclyde University

The path to Energy Systems for the 21st Century – The 4Ds: decentralisation; decarbonisation; digitalisation, democratisation.

This talk will review the national and international policy drivers to achieve net zero energy systems by the middle of the 21st Century in order to address the challenges of climate change. There is growing recognition that to do this, there is a need to take a “systems” approach to energy production, distribution and utilisation which will have fundamental impacts on infrastructure, technologies, energy policy and economics and the role of the consumer.

There are global efforts to seek energy systems that integrate electricity, heating/cooling, transport and flexible engagement by end users. This by necessity, requires us to envisage novel architectures for energy sources (renewables, nuclear, gas), smart grid technologies and greater degrees of automation and decentralisation. The move of the oil and gas industry towards an “energy transition” strategy is an important part of the emerging systems approach and, when coupled with hydrogen technologies, offers the opportunity to create positive convergence within a low-carbon energy future.

Pace and scale are essential if we are to achieve the published net zero objectives of both UK and Scottish governments; as well as international targets. Central to that will be innovation, collaboration, research and the production of highly skilled talent to underpin a new model for our energy system.

The talk will present a number of alternative and prospective energy system architectures, technologies and case studies that demonstrate the potential for new approaches to power and energy that can help chart the path to a net zero future.

Proudly Sponsored by:

Professor Sir Jim McDonald (Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde)

Sir Jim McDonald is one of Scotland’s most accomplished engineers, and co-chairs the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, with the First Minister. He is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and holds senior business appointments with the Weir Group, Scottish Power, the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the UK National Physical Laboratory.

Born in Glasgow, Sir Jim studied for his first degree in electrical engineering at the University of Strathclyde and started his engineering career as a graduate apprentice on the Scottish Electrical Training Scheme. He worked in the electrical utility sector for seven years and returned to the University of Strathclyde in 1984 as a University Grants Commission New Blood Lecturer in Electrical Engineering. He was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993 and became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009.

Professor McDonald was awarded a Knighthood in 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Energy Institute. He chairs two of the pan-Scotland research pools in Energy and Engineering and has served as Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee.