Energy for a Net Zero Society

In association with:


March 30 31 2021
Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford, OX2 6GG

The BIEE’s Oxford Conference is a biennial research conference that seeks to understand the drivers of change in energy, both positive and negative. The conference is aimed at energy analysts, researchers, strategy and policy thinkers from all backgrounds, including industry, academia and research organisations, government, the finance community, NGOs and consultancies. BIEE conferences are renowned for the quality of their speakers, for their open, productive discussion and debate and for the diverse range of participants. It is the mix of people and perspectives that makes this conference distinctive.

‘The conference is a fantastic opportunity and melting pot for people in the energy industry, from government from academia from other research organisations. One of the real advantages and one of the special features of the BIEE conference is it’s a place where all of those energy interested people come together. They learn from each other they spark off each other and they build new networks and new coalitions to help drive the energy sector forward.’

Professor Matthew Leach

Conference Theme

This 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.

Now we have all been impacted by Covid-19, it is clear that how we recover from this public health crisis will reshape how we tackle the climate change crisis. In the immediate term, there has been a sharp fall in economic activity and emissions. But the long-term impact depends on how low-carbon investments are affected, and whether opportunities are taken to reinforce some of the (positive, for the environment) behaviour changes that have been observed in lock-down (such as increased remote working and cycling) or to tackle some of the potentially negative impacts (reduced use of public transport).

The conference will consider how the transition has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, how economic recovery plans might accelerate the transition, and if governments are backing up the rhetoric in delivering plans for a green recovery. It will  look at international perspectives and what can be learnt from the experiences of other countries and market sectors.


The conference was originally scheduled for 24th September 2019 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 epidemic and the need for social distancing. The conference will now be taking place seven months before the important UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, which is being held in Glasgow in November 2021.

It will also follow the publication of the CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget in December 2020  which will set the path to the UK’s new net-zero emissions target in 2050, as the first carbon budget to be set into law following that commitment.

Over the course of the year, to demonstrate that it is serious about net-zero, the Government will need to commit to this pathway and firm up its policy plans. The Government will be considering how to achieve the societal transformation required for net-zero which is precisely the focus of the BIEE conference.

For further information please click on the link below:

The New Energy Supplier Landscape

The New Energy Supplier Landscape

Just on my way back from Gastech 2019 where I hosted a panel on new dimensions in LNG supply. Sarah Bairstow at Mexico Pacific LNG, Anton Oussov at KPMG and Jason Bennett at Baker Botts. Some interesting views on project economics, the links between ethane and methane, and new suppliers in Russia, Mexico, the United States and Canada.

EAGC 2019

European Autumn Gas Conference 2019 Paris

Peter Stewart spoke on behalf of Interfax at the European Autumn Gas Conference in Paris, which was held 5-7 November. Interfax was a sponsor of the conference and highlighted their Global Gas Analytics and Natural Gas Insight publications. Peter is a frequent speaker at energy conferences and contributed to discussions at the FLAME and Gastech conferences earlier in 2019, in Amsterdam and Houston respectively. 

Conference notes: Gas Asia Summit

More of a buzz than usual at the Gas Asia Summit in Singapore this year. Gone were long faces about low prices — indeed, the big players in LNG seems to have forgotten the supply glut ever happened. The mood was upbeat: not quite business as usual, more like a shot of strong coffee after a heavy night out. I had a feeling that people were rolling up their sleeves having made some big decisions. GAS was part of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) and as ever the island is buzzing.
This conference had three big takeaways for me:
Canadian LNG is no longer a pipe dream. It will happen, and it will probably be on a big scale. The Shell FID gave a clear signal that, despite the complex permitting process, it can be done. A Canada spotlight panel reckoned that Canada could have 5-12 liquefaction projects up and running by 2030, on both the east and west coasts. Exports will be of the same magnitude as those from the US, Qatar or Australia.
LNG in shipping is becoming a reality. Shipyards are busy preparing vessels for the IMO 2020 regulation, but older vessels will be scrapped rather than retrofitted. The next generation of boats will be dual-fuelled or LNG ready, but the yards also have orders for LNG-fuelled vessels from barges to tankers. What we are seeing now is the seeds of a new industry. This is no longer something that is waiting to happening, it is happening now.
Islands are getting smart about energy. Advising SIDCs on fuel supply has always been my idea of a dream job, and I met a gentleman who was doing just that over lunch. LNG is the fuel of choice, as it ticks all the boxes: lower carbon than diesel, energy intensive, resilient and with lower investment cost than alternatives such as energy storage.
After a conference, it’s important to think about what was not said, as well as what was said. Were there elephants in the room that no-one talked about? Yes. A whole herd of them. Here are just two:
The benefits of LNG vs diesel are crystal clear, but I felt that many in the gas industry were in denial about the potential for energy storage. Maybe batteries are the next big story, despite all the skepticism. Lithium has already had its first supply shock, after prices soared above $20,000/t a couple of years ago because supply couldn’t meet demand. The battery brigade are already looking at lithium alternatives such as selenium, costs are declining, and battery life and range improving. It cannot yet replace gas as a backup fuel for intermittent renewables, but by 2030? Perhaps.
King Coal has lost its crown, but no-one seems to entertain the idea that coal might make a significant comeback. I never understood the idea of Clean Coal, but if Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) were possible on a large scale, it would be a game-changer. Researchers are looking into ways to solidify emissions and potentially also finding uses for the solids. The dash for gas in China and India has been driven as much by air quality concerns as GHG emissions. CCS as a carbon disposal technology remains out of reach, but CCU could be a game-changer.