Electricity and the UK's Generation Problem

Monday 10 March 2014

Dr O’Hear: On Tuesday March 4th the Oxbridge Project gathered for a talk on 'Electricity and the UK's Generation Problem'.

The speaker was Mr Jake O'Hear, a graduate of Natural Sciences at Cambridge and fresh from a Masters in renewable energy from Imperial College, London. Mr O'Hear has also spent seven years working in finance.

The talk was wide ranging and very topical. Mr O'Hear stressed the link between electricity and domestic emancipation, particularly for women. It is no surprise that there is a direct correlation between income per capita and electricity consumption per head. The USA is still the world leader in both these fields. At the other end of the scale, in Rwanda, for instance, only 16% of people are connected to the national grid.

We also learnt that the UK still generates the majority of our electricity from coal-fired power stations (39% to be precise). We buy much of this coal from the USA, who are now producing the majority of their energy from fracking. However, none of these natural resources will last forever and Mr O'Hear ended the talk with a consideration of solar and wind power as the likely future sources of our electricity; although, this will require us to develop better techniques for storing energy.

As a non scientist, I took a lot away from the talk but some of the students, themselves science enthusiasts, took the questioning to another level. Mr O'Hear singled out Mabast Hussein (11B) and Sadek (7B) for special commendation.

It was a fascinating session and we are very grateful to Mr O'Hear for giving up time in his busy day to talk to us.