FRIDAY 24 NOV 2017 11:27 AM


On 22 November, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond delivered the UK’s annual autumn budget. Detailing the government’s spending priorities, this year’s budget also showed a renewed government impetus on environmental issues, propelled by programmes such as the much-loved Blue Planet II. The statement recognised the need for legislation to tackle air pollution and ocean plastic, as well as extra funding for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in schools.

Yet, while the economic pledge is a step towards mitigating environmental damage, practical action requires expert knowledge. As part of a wider UK drive to inspire students in scientific subjects, the UK branch of Denmark-based Ørsted Energy (previously DONG Energy) has partnered with London’s Natural History Museum (NHM). Running alongside Ørsted’s continual sponsorship of the NHM’s annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and exhibition, the ‘Generate: Scientists of the Future’ initiative aims to build ‘science capital’ among pupils of nearby schools.

Indeed, the strive for global scientific purpose is built into the very fabric of Ørsted, beginning with its new name. Matthew Wright, UK managing director at Ørsted, says, “We take our new name from Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted who helped lay the foundations 200-years-ago for the way we produce power today. We hope this exciting new partnership will help inspire that same curiosity, dedication and interest in nature in a new generation of scientists.”

The partnership also reflects the decision, taken by Ørsted a decade ago, to diversify away from fossil fuels. It has since become an energy brand characterised by its commitment to finding clean energy solutions. “Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our planet today and it is vital that we all take responsibility in protecting the place we call home,” says Wright. “We believe that a fundamental change in the way we power the world is needed to avoid inflicting further harm on delicate global ecosystems – which is why we have taken action and focused our efforts on creating a world which runs entirely on green energy.”

Since 2006, Ørsted has reduced its CO2 emissions by 52%. By 2023, it is calculated emissions will have been reduced by 96%, compared to 2006 levels. Ian Owens, director of science at the Natural History Museum, says, “We are delighted to work with Ørsted, a company that is signalling its commitment to help protect the planet, not only through its continuing and generous support of the museum, but also through the strides it has made on its journey to become a purely renewable energy company.”

“Man’s impact on the environment is one of our generation’s greatest challenges, so it’s heartening to see a company striving to offer greener ways of powering the planet.”

Inspired by similar research projects carried out by Kings College London, Ørsted and the NHM aim to raise awareness of science-related careers and emphasise the role that science plays in everyday life through open days, special talks and workshops. “Ørsted shares many of the same ambitions as NHM in seeking both to safeguard our planet and inspire the next generation of scientists,” says Wright. The next three years should bring out the best of both organisations.