Last year’s Roger Léron Award winner, Andy Bull declared that “those motivated to take action in this field don’t do it because we might get an award one day, but because it is the right thing to do for the future of our children”
Andy Bull spent 30 years in Welsh Local Government and developed many projects on climate change mitigation and sustainable development over the years. He was responsible for the creation of Mid Wales Energy Agency and also worked for Severn Wye Energy Agency. He has been semi-retired for the last four years having been persuaded to be part of the UK team on Biogas Action.
As the winner of the 4th edition of Roger Léron Award, he is a standard for many to follow. Let’s know more about Andy’s thought about the current scene of sustainable development and climate action.
What are the qualities and skills that make an actor in this field successful?
I believe that a passion for sustainable development and environmental protection is the key but there has to be determination and doggedness to go with it. Nothing seems to come easy and there is plenty of conservatism and vested interest that will often get in the way of progress. Of course, the other key ingredient is information. I never claimed to have a huge bank of knowledge – other than a wide list of contacts who would give me advice.
During the course of your career, you worked on many Biogas projects. What are the major changes you have witnessed in this technology and what role do you think it will play in the ongoing energy transition?
The initial emphasis in the development of anaerobic digestion was as an effective means of treating human sewage and then animal manures. Once the focus switched to energy generation, the industry quickly moved to energy crops as the feedstock for biogas plants. Energy crops gave the best gas yields and that was the only thing that mattered. It is my hope that the full sustainable development arguments will bring the emphasis back to the treatment of organic wastes with renewable energy seen as a very valuable by-product and not the sole driver.
In what ways does the Roger Léron Award motivate actors in renewable energy and energy efficiency to continue pushing the boundaries in this field?
This maybe isn’t the answer that you are looking for! I feel that those of us that are motivated to take action in this field don’t do it because we might get an award one day – we do it because we believe that it is the right thing to do for the future of our children and grandchildren. That is not to say that I didn’t appreciate being honoured with the award because I most certainly did.
What is your advice for actors in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency to take advantage of this momentum?
I see and applaud the passion of young people and their desire to see change. Whilst it is absolutely critical that their voices are heard and action is taken, the passion needs good advice, science and engineering to focus the youthful energy into sensible directions. The Nimbyism of my generation was often fuelled by the manipulation of “facts” to suit arguments to thwart change. It is important that the deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency schemes incorporate a spirit of excellence. Shabbily implemented programmes that bring sound solutions into disrepute are exactly what is NOT needed – and will provide ammunition to the sceptics.
Andy Bull’s discourse is a real inspiration for those who are involved in the field of Environment and Sustainable Development. It is easy to understand why he was last year’s winner of the Roger Léron Award.