Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

Presidents Address - Energy For Life

05 June 2007

Various energy sources including: nuclear, oil, LPG, coal, wood, solar, hydro and wind are compared in terms of energy content and carbon dioxide emissions. A measurement of one barrel of oil (159 litres or
42 US gallons) is used to compare the various sources on an equal footing. Two charts are used throughout showing kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted per barrel of fuel consumed, and the other showing energy content per barrel. It shows how it is misleading to promote electric power and hydrogen as clean energy sources for transport purposes as their production and transfer still requires the use of fossil fuels. The nuclear issue and future requirements for this technology are discussed. Future developments such as solar, clean fossil fuels with carbon capture and biofuels are highlighted. To conclude, it is argued that we need energy sources with high output (such as coal, oil, nuclear etc) but with little to zero emissions and that the energy supply challenges faced by the world will be met by a diverse combination of nuclear, clean fossil, solar and biomass fuels. To achieve these changes, we will require more engineers who are willing to accept the challenge of the changing world. To do this, we must promote engineering as a career choice to existing engineers and school and university
students.

Meet the Speaker

John Baxter is the 122nd president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Following an early interest in all things mechanical he studied mechanical engineering at Strathclyde University. He then trained as a Royal Navy Submarine Engineer Officer, serving on a Polaris nuclear submarine and refitting nuclear submarines. His subsequent career with the atomic energy authority covered all aspects
of the nuclear programme. In 1990 he became UKAEA's Director, Engineering, and was also a founding director of Hunting BRAE, the private sector company that ran the UK Atomic weapon plants.

After a period as director, Dounreay, he was appointed by the secretary of state for trade and industry to the UKAEA board and latterly ran nuclear operations at the Windscale, Harwell, and Winfrith sites.
In 1998 John was appointed Chief Engineer and Technical Director, Powergen plc., with responsibility for engineering strategy, R&D, and all technical services across the company. He subsequently became
Powergen's Group Engineering Director. In 2004, John was appointed as the group engineering director, British Petroleum (BP), with responsibilities for integrity management, major accident risk
assessment, and engineering standards. He also acts as head of Profession for engineers across the BP group.

John is a Fellow of the IMechE, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Royal Academy of Engineers. He is also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

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