The Green Energy Forum: Sustainability LIVE London 2023

Featuring insights from David Watkins, VIRTUS Data Centres, Stephen Lorimer, Centre for Net Zero, Viviana Ciancibello, EEX & Jon Sankey, Vattenfall

The Green Energy Forum at Sustainability LIVE London 2023 explored the role of renewable energy sources in transforming the global energy landscape — an essential step in tackling climate change and achieving sustainable development goals. The discussion examined current trends and innovations in the green energy industry, the challenges facing the adoption and scaling of renewable energy, and the opportunities and implications for various sectors of the economy. 

It concluded that the role of government in accelerating the transition to green energy was upping engagement, furthering education, improving consistency, boosting collaboration, reducing widespread control and cohesively managing capacity. 

“I think one of the key things the government can help us with is consistency in messaging and direction,” said Jon Sankey, Head of Development for Bristol, Vattenfall.

“What we're now seeing from the government is a recognition that this is a key solution in decarbonising the heating sector in the UK, as heating makes up about a third of the UK carbon emissions.

"But actually, in terms of the long term consistency, showing the market — the supply chain in particular — that it's worth their while and their investment.

“The sector needs clarity about the ongoing support, but also the regulatory environment and other restrictions. In the longer term that can actually really help for industry to pivot towards providing solutions in these sectors.”

Challenges in scaling green energy 

“I think in our industry, one big challenge is resilience,” commented David Watkins, Solutions Director, VIRTUS Data Centres.

“We deliver services that can never be off. So historically, the backup to the primary energy source has been through self-generation, typically through diesel, which obviously is not particularly green.

“And the technology now is there to replace that, but it doesn't work at scale and so in an ideal world we need a different configuration. It might just not be technology, it might be the way in which we use the services that we provide. So can we provide that robustness without the need for non-green technology?”

The future of energy 

“One of the trials that we have going right now is looking at people's tolerance towards preheating their buildings when renewable energy is available in the early afternoon. So you're not just automatically turning on at 5:30 p.m.,” shared Stephen Lorimer, Clean Energy Cities, Centre for Net Zero – part of the Octopus Energy Group.

“Because if everyone's doing that, once we electrify heat, we basically have the World Cup final times 20. It is very expensive to build an electricity network for that and not palatable to any politician in the future.

“We have a product called Intelligent Octopus that you can say to look at the market and see that the lowest prices and the most available energy is at two in the morning. Let's have all kinds of cars and batteries charging when that happens at two in the morning.

“Now, of course, once everyone plays this game, it's self-defeating. But, you know, these things do help in trying to manage the local energy system in the future.”

Success stories in green energy

“In terms of the pricing aspect of wholesale markets, the biggest moment we've seen is going from shorter term hedging and risk management by utilities — which is mainly what they did when they were managing the risk of fossil fuel generated assets — up to two or three years. Now, with PPAs especially, the demand has grown to up to ten years where they want to manage the risk and use our products as well to hedge,” said Viviana Ciancibello, Senior Business Developer, European Energy Exchange (EEX).

“So we extended our futures from six to ten years to facilitate that. The most demand we've had from that has been in Spain, where the government stopped offering subsidies to new renewable energy assets back in 2017, I believe, notwithstanding all of the other interventions they've done in the past few years.”

Expert speakers from across industries

David Watkins, Solutions Director, VIRTUS Data Centres

David heads up the Solutions Team at VIRTUS, working with all customers to provide them with innovative, customised solutions to meet their needs. He has been at VIRTUS since 2009, originally as Head of Operations.

Stephen Lorimer, Clean Energy Cities, Centre for Net Zero – part of the Octopus Energy Group

Stephen Lorimer has built new programmes and teams across smart cities, data and energy. Clean Energy Cities is my project at Centre for Net Zero, powered by Octopus Energy and delivered an international standard for cities to be the new leaders of the energy transition. Stephen has written the £16m business case that created the Data Standards Authority for the UK Government, and the £5m case for the London Office of Technology and Innovation for London's 33 boroughs and the Mayor. 

He also managed a new £2m pre-seed fund for sustainable technologies at Imperial Business School. Stephen is an expert in sustainable cities and data sharing after years as the policy lead for data sharing for the UK government, for smart cities for the Mayor of London, and as a consultant for urban design and regeneration.

Viviana Ciancibello, Senior Business Developer, European Energy Exchange (EEX)

Viviana has over a decade's experience in commercial and strategic roles at financial commodity exchanges, with a focus on sustainable products. At EEX, Viviana leads initiatives to adapt EEX’s product suite to the evolving needs of power traders as a result of increasing renewable energy capacity in Europe. 

Jon Sankey, Head of Development for Bristol, Vattenfall

Jon Sankey is an experienced Head of Business Development for Bristol at Vattenfall Heat UK. He brings a wealth of expertise to the role, having previously worked on Bristol City Council's ground-breaking heat network team which has made significant progress in decarbonising the city. 

Often seen riding his bike around Bristol from meetings to site visit, Jon is responsible for driving the city’s uptake of district heating from connecting new and existing residential, community and commercial buildings. He is focused on accelerating the build-out of the heat network and decarbonising additional areas of Bristol, providing affordable low-carbon heat to more people. 

Born and still living in the city, Jon acts as a key interface between Bristol City Leap and its partnership with Ameresco, the Council and, most importantly, the local community. 


For more energy insights check out the latest edition of Energy Digital Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter.

You may also be interested in Sustainability Magazine and EV Magazine. ​​​​​​​


BizClik is a global provider of B2B digital media platforms that cover 'Executive Communities' for CEO's, CFO's, CMO's, Sustainability Leaders, Procurement & Supply Chain Leaders, Technology & AI Leaders, Cyber Leaders, FinTech & InsurTech Leaders as well as covering industries such as Manufacturing, Mining, Energy, EV, Construction, Healthcare + Food & Drink.

BizClik, based in London, Dubai & New York offers services such as Content Creation, Advertising & Sponsorship Solutions, Webinars & Events.


Featured Videos

View all

Sustainability LIVE Launches New Advertising Campaign

Sustainability Magazine launches its new Sustainability LIVE advertising campaign

Net Zero

Sustainability LIVE: Net Zero – Savills' ESG Lead Keynote


Sustainability LIVE Singapore – Mahindra Group, CSO Fireside

Net Zero

Sustainability LIVE: Net Zero – Microsoft Executive Keynote