Every two years the BIEE holds its research conference at the University of Oxford. This year’s conference takes place on September 13-14 2021 and the conference theme is Energy for a Net Zero Society. The 2021 research conference will focus on building the foundations and policies of the low carbon transition aimed at achieving a net zero carbon society in a way that is fair and just. It will address how we live, work and travel, and how policy, infrastructure and the private sector can respond to enable the transformation of heat, transport and industry.
Why This Conference ?
Firstly BIEE conferences have long been acknowledged for the high quality of speakers. For instance, in 2016 we had Edward Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, delivering an highly entertaining and informative after-dinner speech in the Great Hall of St John’s College, Oxford. In 2018 speakers included Philip New CEO Energy Systems Catapult, Barbara Hammond Low Carbon Hub, Peter Bance Origami Energy, Lawrence Orsini, Founder LO3 Energy, Jenni Saunders ex NEA, and Juliet Davenport CEO, Good Energy. The 2021 line up so far includes Jonathan Brearley OFGEM, Laura Sandys Challenging Ideas, Prof Jillian Anable Chair in Transport and Energy at Leeds and Richard Bruce Director of Energy Technology and Innovation at the DfT.
The conference also offers a friendly but challenging environment to discuss pressing energy issues and meet like-minded stakeholders from energy industry, finance, academia and government. In the words of Prof. Matthew Leach 2016 chair the conference offers a unique opportunity for this broad coalition of stakeholders to ‘learn from each other, spark off each other and build new networks to help drive the energy sector forward’.
I firmly believe the conference strikes the perfect balance in terms of size: large enough to ensure the right people are there but intimate enough that you can easily connect with influential people over a coffee or a drink. As an academic, BIEE has afforded me the opportunity to discuss my research with former energy ministers, CEOs of energy utilities and senior civil servants, in turn opening up new opportunities for collaboration. You simply don’t get these opportunities every day and as such BIEE is always the first conference in my diary.
This year’s two day conference programme includes three plenary sessions with high profile guest speakers, eight paper sessions showcasing the latest research, policy and industry analysis and at least four ‘dialogue’ sessions for discussion and debate of specific topic areas, In addition there will be a dedicated session for contributions from students and young energy professionals. We will be hosting a ‘Diversity for Net Zero’ breakfast session which will discuss how diversity contributes to achieving a just transition to a Net Zero society.
The conference will be held at the new Blavatnik School of Government. As well as being a stunning purpose-built space for a conference, it is one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in Oxford. It has been certified as BREEAM Excellent; with A Rated energy performance and consumes 49% less energy in comparison to existing UK buildings of the same size and use. ( It has automated natural ventilation with daytime solar blinds and summer night cooling, a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system for heating and cooling, solar panel electricity systems and low energy lighting, and rainwater harvesting, green roof and storm tanks). The traditional three-course dinner will this year be hosted by Worcester College.
Call For Papers
The BIEE announced their Call for Papers to academics, professionals and practitioners in the policy, industry, financial, analyst, consulting and media communities to submit their proposals for an opportunity to speak in the conference parallel sessions and are inviting submissions for paper presentations dialogue sessions and student ‘pitches’. The deadline for submissions is March 3rd 2018. If you are successful you will be invited to submit a full paper and deliver a 20 minute presentation, followed by Q&A.
If you are a PhD or MSc student then you may wish to submit a proposal to BIEE’s ‘Student Pitches’, where students will provide a short presentation of their research topic. At the end of students’ pitches a themed discussion will follow between both students and established academics. This is an excellent platform to share your research, get expert feedback and meet other like-minded researchers at a similar stage of their career. I first attended BIEE in 2010 as a PhD and I am still in close contact with the people I met then almost 10 year later.
Following on from the great successes of last two conferences BIEE is also welcoming submissions for Dialogue Sessions. Essentially these offer a less formal platform to stimulate more organic discussions around broader energy economic and policy issues than the paper sessions. They are typically centred around a provocative or pressing question, such as ‘Can gas provide a bridge to a low carbon future?’. They last approximately 90 minutes and in involve 3 to 5 panellists each providing a five-minute commentary on that question (without slides). Discussion is then invited from the floor and the sessions end with a brief summing up from each of the panellists (10 mins total).
In 2016 I submitted a proposal titled ‘Government policy to stimulate sustainable energy innovation’. This session brought together experts from academia, government and industry to discuss how government policy could best facilitate technology and business model innovation capable of supplying sustainable, low-cost and secure energy to UK consumers. In 2018 I took part in Do people matter? Can we get to a low carbon, secure and affordable system without their engagement? and ‘Consumers, voters, residents or investors: who will be at the heart of future community energy organisations?’. All sessions were highly thought-provoking and the format offered an exciting new dimension to BIEE conferences in previous years, which has been retained for 2020.
Proposals for these sessions should expand upon the dialogue theme, highlighting its relevance to the overall conference theme and its relevance to ongoing energy policy debates, emphasising why the subject is likely to spark interesting debate. The proposals should also identify which panel members are expected to contribute, highlighting the blend of viewpoints and expertise they will offer. Panel member suggestions are not binding but the proposer should have some confidence they are willing and able to participate.
On behalf of the BIEE, I hope you are able to take part in what will undoubtedly be another exciting BIEE conference this year and help inform the energy policy debate both in the UK and beyond. Remember the deadline is 3rd March for any submissions and should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us on Conference@biee.org and follow us on Twitter @BIEE10 for ongoing updates. I hope to see you there.
Dr Matthew Hannon
Chancellor’s Fellow, Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde,
BIEE Council Member