Engineering a Net Zero Energy System

In this report, former IMechE President, Peter Flinn, investigates the challenges of decarbonisation and what the engineering community should be doing to overcome them.

It examines the problem from three different perspectives:

  • Discrete technologies
  • Complete systems
  • Economic and cost factors

Net Zero is arguably the largest engineering project undertaken by humankind. Most of the technologies to achieve this transition already exist, and some existing energy technologies will still have a place. However, there are many challenges in making these technologies robust, reliable, and cost-effective. We need to accelerate our efforts, create market demand, release cash, build up new skills and engage in a massive scale-up programme for this to occur.

In support of this goal, the IMechE will:

  • Provide comprehensive, objective and balanced coverage of technologies, with particular reference to their development (TRL) status and the market opportunities created, drawing attention to critical topics.
  • Provide convening leadership in the UK engineering community on power generation and distribution, critical materials, capture technologies, building systems and energy vectors to maximise the impact of this community.
  • Work to develop the education, skills and qualifications needed to under-pin Net Zero.
  • Stress the importance of whole system design, optimising the whole and not just elements of the whole, pointing to gaps or weaknesses that we are aware of.
  • With agencies such as Innovate UK and the Catapult network, encourage the development of large-scale pilot projects.
Emphasise the scale of change and the investment necessary, the flow of money and the need to create new markets and, hence, business opportunities.

Image credit Raphael Ruz


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