Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Advisor, Department of Energy and Climate Change laid out the department’s priorities for future sustainable energy systems at the University of Birmingham this month (14 July). He informed students and guests at the first in the new Birmingham Energy Institute prestigious lecture series that in order to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets investing in new technologies, including electric cars, is the way forward.

Transport consumes the majority of our oil – it’s a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions. Professor Loughhead said that biofuels were initially a solution to this issue, but evidence suggests that the consumption of fossil-fuel to produce biofuels is greater than the energy capacity in the fuel you get. With future technology innovations, all vehicles will soon have electric drives.

When discussing the challenges of the UK’s 2050 80% carbon reduction targets  with over 100 guests, including students, young researchers, academics and industry specialists, Professor Loughhead advised:

Low carbon energy should be delivered securely, at the least cost to consumers, taxpayers and the economy, to maximise the benefits of the economy in terms of jobs, growth and investment, by making the most of our existing oil and gas reserves and seizing the opportunities presented by the rise of the global green economy.

Professor Loughhead also highlighted the importance of connecting with the next generation of scientists and engineers, who will inevitably be at the forefront of developing new innovations and helping to drive new technologies in the future.

Presenting at the University of Birmingham was a great opportunity to connect with young researchers and students to explain some of the challenges as we see them. To get the innovation we need, it's vital to properly connect the research and policy base with industry, to ensure our future generation successfully take the energy system forward.


The Birmingham Energy Institute is a focal point for the University and its national and international partners, to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The focus being ‘Energy systems’, ‘The Business of Energy’, ‘Energy and Transport’ and ‘Breakthroughs in Energy Technologies’. Co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships is at the heart of the Birmingham Energy Institute’s vision drawing on recognised centres of excellence in Energy Storage, Nuclear Energy, Fuel Cells and their Fuels, Railway and Automotive Systems and Energy Policy and Economics.