Yesterday was the proudest moment of my time at ELN. We pulled off our biggest ever conference with close to 600 people packing the Barbican Centre in London, to watch the best content the energy sector has seen!
It’s a bold claim but one I am ready to back up. After all, which other conference gets a 55 minute session with the Energy Secretary which ends with him bringing the house down with a joke about farting cows?! (It was his response in terms of CO2 emissions from nature vs man by the way!).
Ed Davey had the audience in stitches as he gave an unscripted performance which not only showed his humour but also his passion for the job as Energy Secretary and a degree of “humanity” that I doubt I’ve seen from a politican in my 25 years as a hack. Lets put it this way, if next May he has to pass on the baton of Energy Secretary, the sector will have lost someone who seemed by the evidence yesterday to have won a lot of friends.
It was the perfect end to a great day. You know ELN, we try the new and so we started the day with five seminar sessions discussing everything from the future of the grid to getting hold of data in a unique fashion – silent disco!
Yep we used a set of headphones that allowed the delegates to ‘tune in’ to the sessions they wanted to listen to. No need for anyone to shout, no noise pollution and they really went down well with the hundreds that packed our sessions to the rafters.
Our first headline session, a Question of Energy was full of great debate and strong contributions from the audience. It was a shame to have lost Alistair Phillips-Davies to a throat infection but the panel of Anthony Ainsworth, Stephen Beynon, John Mills and Tony Ward spent an hour tackling everything from energy efficiency to the CMA probe. They were honest and open which is what we want at ELN most of all.
And nothing showed honesty more than the lunchtime “frack off” where passions ran high, tempers higher as a true battle of viewpoints brought the crowd to a standstill. ELN is editorially independent, I am proud of that more than anything. Yes we are a commercial organisation but we strive to let our journalism rule what we do and not our commercial interests. Why else would I invite an environmental campaigner against the Big Six to our conference to debate against the world’s leading fracker?
Ewa Jasiewicz actively campaigns against the energy sector and here she was making a determined case for not fracking in the UK. Her opponent, the Frack Master himself Chris Faulkner flew over again for the second time at our conference. They slugged it out for an hour toe to toe with the crowd chipping in. A debate. An exchange. A real event which I am very proud of. Fracking is an issue that divides opinion but at ELN we say listen to both sides and make your decision.
On a personal note it was great to have a chance to say goodbye to Angela Knight the outgoing CEO of Energy UK. Ange has been a real friend to us at ELN towers, always direct, often funny and certainly one of a kind.
We ended the day with a special award to Tania Cosentino the Zone President of South America for Schneider Electric. Back in July, I visited a favela in Sao Paulo where her team are working as volunteers to help the poor get a second chance working in the energy industry. For that we felt she deserved a special “Energy in Society” award and I wish her well in all the future.
Thanks to all of you who came and to all our sponsors particularly EY, Schneider Electric and npower who were our headline supporters, without them we couldn’t put it on. But most importantly to the hundreds of energy end users, campaigners and this year students who came along, we hope you will be back next year as we want to keep bringing you the best the sector has to offer.
Lastly, a big thanks to the entire ELN team. We are a small unit, a real family and both Geoff and I are very proud of the team we have that makes all this possible. See you next year!