Join in the energy debate

We are only a few days into 2007 but you will have already noticed a theme running through your newspaper and TV headlines.

Utility companies slated for their alleged failure to pass on decreases in wholesale gas prices to the rest of us. Tony Blair drawn into a row about whether air travel should be cut to fight global warming. Russia turning off a major oil pipeline in a trade dispute with Belarus. The EU demanding a ‘new industrial revolution’ to secure the continent’s energy supplies.



Energy the theme

All these touch on the issue of energy, the manner in which it is produced, transmitted and consumed, and the consequences thereof.

The fact that such stories are swamping the news bulletins demonstrates how far up the mainstream social, political and economic agendas energy has moved.

For engineers and technologists the topic has a particular resonance. They are charged with developing the technical innovations that many hope will solve the huge challenges we hear about on the news.

Take air travel as an example. When Blair was asked whether he would cut down on his holiday flights to do his bit for carbon reduction, the PM’s answer was surprisingly straightforward for a politician.

It was a resounding no, followed up with the statement that it was down to the aerospace industry to find ways of making aviation more energy-efficient ‘and how you develop the new fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less’.

As a way for Blair to bat off an awkward question it wasn’t a bad line but the response of pretty much anyone involved in the aero-engineering field would be ‘that’s easy for you to say prime minister’.



Aviation issue

Some of the aviation issues are addressed by British Airways chairman Martin Broughton in our Viewpoint this week. The Engineer‘s news pages include a story on hydrogen storage and the Carbon Trust outlines its scheme to nurture energy-efficient innovations in our Managing Technology section.

Throughout the year we will run major features on energy-related issues, interviews with technical experts and decision-makers, special energy supplements and regular news stories on technology innovations in the energy arena, from nuclear to wind, wave power to petroleum. All this alongside our regular coverage of engineering innovations across a wide range of technology-based sectors.

Look out for the Year of Energy logo throughout the magazine for the rest of 2007.

Most of all, we hope The Engineer‘s readers — the expert technical professionals from whom Blair and the rest are hoping for so much — will add their voices to the debate.

Hopefully, between us, we can make a big contribution to what is arguably the most important debate of our era.

Andrew Lee, editor