The Energy Institute – a century of professionalism and achievement


Courtesy of Energy Institute (EI)

The Energy Institute is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the organisation and its predecessors this year. To introduce a monthly series of articles covering energy history over the last century and challenges for the future, EI President Ian Marchant looks back to the 1914 beginnings of the organisation and its subsequent achievements, and to the future within its current New Cavendish Street home.

I have always been a keen student of history, following the advice of Winston Churchill who said: ‘The longer you can look back, the further forward you can see.’ As someone who has spent twenty-five years in the energy industry I amparticularly keen on its history and the 100th anniversary of the Energy Institute is an excellent opportunity to celebrate our industry’s past, its achievements and its heroes. This is the first of a series of articles to be published this year that seek to do that.

These last one hundred years have seen dramatic change in the energy landscape in the UK. We have witnessed two major shifts; the displacement of coal with oil and gas and, second, the emergence of an electricity age. Let me give you a couple of examples of this great transformation.

In 1914 there were only a couple of hundred thousand vehicles on our roads, these are now over 35mn and our way of life and entire country has been shaped by the availability of personal and public transport. Second, one hundred years ago mains electricity was still a luxury.We now have a national grid connecting hundreds of power stations fuelled by oil, gas, coal, nuclear, water, wind, solar and biomass material to every home, office and factory in the UK. Any threat to our energy supplies, be it to deliveries of petrol and diesel to our local filling stations or adverse weather bringing down power lines, shows how dependent we have become on reliable sources of energy.

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