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The challenges of running a low-carbon electricity grid

The challenges of running a low-carbon electricity grid

Location: Norcroft Centre, University of Bradford (Main Campus)

Date and Time:
Wed 1 Nov 2017, 18:00 - 19:15

Duration: 1.15

This lecture, the second of the Harold Wilson Lecture Series, will outline the importance of a low carbon grid in Britain and the challenges this presents. The lecture will be delivered by Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax Group.


There is a wide consensus that the future of the UK power system lies in low-carbon, renewable, power and that we need to deliver change quickly. Nearly everyone agrees, so what’s the delay? The answer is that achieving a genuinely low carbon grid is far more complicated than it sounds. Keeping the lights on needs a mix of different technologies with a range of qualities and attributes. We can’t simply knock down the fossil fueled generators and build new wind farms and solar parks. To make a success of a very low carbon world we need a holistic approach that fundamentally changes the way electricity is generated, supplied and used. Indeed some of the cutting edge technology we will need is still in its infancy. The distinctions between generators, suppliers and users are increasingly blurring and even now many of the long-standing truths and assumptions surrounding the power industry are being challenged. Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax Group, will explain the challenges and what Drax Group is doing to rise to them.


Dorothy Thompson was appointed CEO of Drax Group plc in September 2005. The Group’s principal activities are renewable electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers, and production of compressed wood pellets for use in electricity and heat generation. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Eaton Corporation plc and the Court of the Bank of England.

Prior to joining Drax, Dorothy was Vice President of InterGen NV, an independent power-company jointly owned by Shell and Bechtel. At InterGen Dorothy was initially responsible for new business activities in the Middle-East and Europe. Later she took on responsibility for the operational assets of InterGen’s European business comprising 3.2GW of gas generation in the UK and continental Europe. Dorothy joined InterGen in 1998 from PowerGen plc where she was Assistant Group Treasurer with specific responsibility for raising funding for PowerGen’s overseas power generation facilities. Dorothy started her career in development banking working for the Commonwealth Development Corporation in the UK and Malaysia and the National Development Bank of Botswana in Botswana.

Dorothy has a BSc and MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, London University. In 2013 she was appointed a Commander of the British Empire.


Universities are no longer ivory towers and play a key role in the emergence of the knowledge economy to tackle some of the challenges of the 21st Century. Through events and lectures the University of Bradford aims to share its knowledge and engage in conversations with the public on some of these challenges.

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