Chris Ganje: Case study

at BP

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Policy Advisor, BP
Junior Policy Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy

Over the past 40 years there have been a number of technology breakthroughs that have profoundly transformed the global energy system. Such advances have included seismic imaging, deepwater exploration, combined-cycle gas turbines, solar photovoltaics, digital systems and more recently North American shale. The energy system is becoming increasingly complex and over the longer-term, a number of so-called ‘emerging technologies’ could be equally if not more disruptive to the industry.

However, disruptions to the energy industry from emerging technologies are relatively rare as there are significant barriers to overcome. These include: major capital allocation, extensive infrastructure requirements and long asset lives. Furthermore, new technologies often require a nexus of technology, business and policy support across many regions in order to come to fruition.

The integration of existing technologies coupled with the lack of policy and regulation can also play a major role in industry disruptions, as was the case with the US shale gas revolution. Equally, policy-led incentives can potentially accelerate the deployment of technologies triggering large disruptions such as fuel switching or mode-of-transport substitution.

Within my role as Policy Advisor at BP, one of my primary responsibilities has been to lead the Group’s emerging technologies analysis as part of our Long-Term Technology View. This has identified nascent, yet potentially disruptive emerging technologies that could impact the energy system through to 2050, and the shorter-term implications for BP.

My Policy Fellowship has afforded me the unique opportunity to test and gain diverse perspectives from world-leading scholars on an array of emerging technologies topics and their interaction with public policy. To date I have met with over 25 academics from a range of relevant fields. From debating the feasibility of implementing climate change taxes with Dr Chris Hope to discussing the next generation of low-carbon technologies with Professor David MacKay, each of these stimulating conversations offered a truly fascinating and enriching experience.

I unreservedly recommend the Cambridge fellowship programme, through which I have the privilege of maintaining on-going dialogue with top researchers, industrialists, policy makers and policy influencers. Additionally, the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy itself offers access to a community of thought-leaders from academia, government and industry providing an excellent network for immediate and future collaboration.