With the COP26 presidency still sat with us, the UK Government is keen to maintain its leadership position, Madano’s Energy team provides advice to some of the most exciting energy projects from Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and nuclear through to solar and wind. Our team is focused on connecting projects to the most influential stakeholders supporting the UK’s net zero and levelling up agendas. Looking ahead to 2022, here are some of our predictions about trends and opportunities within the energy sector:
1) Will SMRs start to happen, or will fusion make the grade?
With Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and even Bradwell B securing sizeable column inches in recent years, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) have always been seen as exciting, but something for tomorrow. However, will Qatari investment to the tune of £80m coming into the Rolls Royce consortium be enough to progress to the next phase of supply chain readiness and site selection? They had better get a move on with a number of exciting fusion companies that are hoping 2022 will be the year to recreate the sun and limitless clean energy.
2) Do people really understand what Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is?
Our Energy practice has witnessed varying levels of understanding of CCS in 2021 – from being compared to nuclear geological storage and explained using chocolate biscuits and mugs of tea. There is a need for companies to communicate what CCS means for net zero more clearly. Part of this will be to look past transporting CO2 relatively short distances to geological storage sites and understanding how emitters that aren’t close to storage sites can harness this technology, maybe by boat or truck.
3) Will we have the honest debate about the need for oil and gas?
We saw in recent weeks that the Cambo oil field has been vaunted as a massive win for environmental campaigners, but equally we have seen the Faroe Islands double down on new exploration. With the wrangles around Nord Stream 2 and Russian exports from Yamal, we are still going to be using considerable volumes of oil and gas in our daily lives through to 2050. With the electrification of platforms starting to come forward, there does need to be an honest debate around our longer-term dependency on hydrocarbons and where Direct Air Capture or nature-based solutions can offset our needs.
4) Low Carbon Hydrogen
Ever increasing hype around the potential for hydrogen was seen in 2021 with major investments and dedicated funds launched to promote innovation and investment. More will be unveiled in 2022, as the UK Government looks to publish its draft Heads of Terms for the forthcoming Hydrogen Business Models in Q1-2, and it has already begun the process engaging with end-users to support the development and scaling up of hydrogen technologies. Industry will continue to match and even exceed the Government’s ambitions in this sector, with trade associations like Hydrogen UK, supported by Madano, serving to support key departments to move from strategic thinking to deeper work with the sector to deliver a fully-fledged value chain.
5) Will we see a moratorium on new energy from waste facilities?
Energy from waste assets is seen as highly valuable. With money flowing in from private equity and pension funds, the sector is now mobilising around carbon capture and storage technologies. However, there is ever increasing pressure on the thermal treatment of waste, and its perceived impact on recycling rates. Wales has come out with their own moratorium on large, new scale EfWs to curb development appetite. Further parliamentary debates have asked the same question and now an open letter has been signed with cross-party support. Future proposals will need to be equipped with a clear narrative and be compatible with net zero ambitions.
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Alongside a Budget that focused heavily on the immediate actions required to return to growth and respond to the economic impacts of Covid-19, the Government published Build Back Better, its plan for growth, a new economic strategy for the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world with technology, net zero and innovation at its heart.
Autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review will still be significant in putting this to work longer term, but Build Back Better makes clear that today’s Budget, and recent announcements such as the £800m ARIA and the Green Industrial Revolution, are part of a bigger picture for the Government. Its three pillars are infrastructure, skills and innovation. New strategies expected over the next year, such as a Hydrogen Strategy, Innovation Strategy, a Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, and Digital Strategy, will all connect back to Build Back Better.
It aims to build a connecting economic narrative for the future of the UK, with leadership in science and innovation, and the transition to net zero, all creating transformative changes in productivity and quality of life in regions across the country.
Our highlights included:
- The new Future Fund: Breakthrough, a £375m public-private fund to invest in promising, R&D-intensive companies ready to scale up with equity rounds of over £20m, showing Government’s seriousness about a greater appetite for risk and supporting companies directly.
- The launch of the new National Infrastructure Bank, expected to deliver £12bn in public and sector project investment from Spring onwards and drive forward new net zero projects.
- Freeports, eight new economic zones spread across nearly every region, with special regulatory, development and taxation rules to incentivise high-tech investment.
- Several commitments on green finance, including a change to the Bank of England’s remit to include environmental sustainability, and new green savings products and bonds.
Levelling up remains a key focus. Alongside freeports, the location of the new National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and the Treasury’s new Darlington hub make that abundantly clear.
Undoubtedly, the focus today will be on measures taken by the Chancellor to safeguard the economy as the UK travels on the roadmap towards the end of COVID-19 restrictions. But today’s Build Back Better plan demonstrates that when the Conservatives go to the electorate at the end of this Parliament, they will be expecting to do so having established a more productive economy that leads in innovative industries, and is making strides towards a lower carbon energy system.
For the fifth consecutive year, our managing partner, Michael Evans, has been included in PRWeek’s Power Book, a guide to the “brightest and most influential” communications professionals in the UK.
You can read Michael’s entry – and his views on the BBC, KFC and a certain section of hallowed West Country turf – in his Q&A here.
For a more in-depth look at Madano’s first 15 years, check out Michael’s interview with Cision from 2019.
Strategic communications and insights consultancy Madano today announced that it has been chosen by Ceres Power for an integrated communications brief, advising the fuel cell technology firm on external communications, public affairs, digital and social media.
Ceres Power is an innovative fuel cell and engineering company based in Horsham, U.K., aiming to bring cleaner and cheaper energy to businesses, homes and vehicles. Last year, the company announced partnerships with Doosan, Bosch and AVL which will significantly scale-up the deployment of its solid oxide fuel cell technology in key markets around the world.
Madano will be working with Ceres Power to improve awareness among key stakeholders in the media, government and beyond of the company’s recent impressive progress and the contribution it can make towards achieving net-zero goals.
Michael Evans, Managing Partner, Madano, commented: “This is the latest in a series of exciting integrated comms briefs landed by our energy and environment practice, reflecting Madano’s desire to support companies who are shaping the future. Ceres Power is a groundbreaking energy technology company whose purpose dovetails with one of the consultancy’s main objectives – to sustain a clean, green planet by ensuring there is clean energy available throughout the world.”
Phil Caldwell, CEO, Ceres Power, added: “The growth opportunities for our business in 2021 are clear. Many countries have placed decarbonisation at the centre of their plans for economic recovery after COVID-19, and we’ve seen significant investment in hydrogen and industrial decarbonisation announced in Germany, South Korea, Japan and the UK, to name a few. Our partnership with Madano will help us to raise awareness among key audiences of the role our SteelCell® technology can play in driving decarbonisation forward globally.”
Madano is committed to building a better world through intelligent and creative communications. We work with clients who are seeking to solve some of the world’s major challenges through science, technology and engineering, helping them tell their story, make the right connections, change attitudes and influence behaviours. Established in 2004, Madano is an AVENIR GLOBAL company.
*Story first published on PR Week.
On 2nd December, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following review by the MHRA.
This announcement comes a ground-breaking seven months after the start of clinical trials and marks a major breakthrough, but it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Recent criticism that the approval was “hasty” and the spread of misinformation about vaccines on social media has already resulted in vaccination hesitancy.
Providing regular, clear and transparent communications about the new vaccine will be critical to increase public confidence and encourage vaccination uptake.
Globally vaccine mistrust is growing
Vaccination is the most effective public health intervention available, ranking second only to clean water for disease prevention. Yet in 2019, the World Health Organisation listed vaccination hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health; at the time they couldn’t have imagined how soon the potential impact of that threat would be realised.
A recent study from UCL found that a fifth of people in the UK said they would be unlikely to get a vaccine for COVID-19. Worryingly, vaccination hesitancy appeared to be higher for the COVID–19 vaccine than the flu vaccine, particularly in older adults. These findings clearly highlight the effect of the ongoing spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and the vaccines.
This growing infodemic, a term used to describe the flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it difficult for people to make informed decisions about their health. It’s therefore crucial that communications around COVID-19 vaccines be clear, honest and openly address the public’s concerns.
Compassion and clear communication will be key to increasing public confidence
The unprecedented speed of the development of COVID-19 vaccines has led many to, perhaps fairly, question whether they have been rushed. These are legitimate concerns and they need to be treated with respect and compassion to avoid alienating a large group of people and risk them turning to non-trustworthy sources of information.
Professor Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, has emphasised the importance of trying to understand these concerns and encourages open and balanced dialogue about both risks and benefits.
Not only are the types of messages important, but the way they are communicated to the public must be considered. The public will inevitably be exposed to rumours and false information, and this must be countered by developing trusted spaces, via social and mainstream media, to share accurate information in an accessible way for the public.
It is exciting to see that healthcare professionals are already starting to adapt, with live Q&As on social media becoming increasingly popular. Doctors are even starting to use TikTok to bust myths about vaccines.
These strategies, along with other innovative methods to share transparent and compassionate messages, will play a critical role in countering the spread of vaccine hesitancy and ultimately ensuring we return to something close to normality in the future.
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