Memorandum from the Science Museum, London
1. THE SCIENCE
The Science Museum welcomes the opportunity
to contribute to the House of Common's Environmental Audit Committee's
inquiry into Sustainable Energy: Renewables and the PIU review.
The Science Museum is part of the National Museum of Science and
Industry (NMSI) that also includes the National Railway Museum,
York, and the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television,
Bradford. The Science Museum is a Non-Departmental Government
Body overseen and part-funded in grant in aid by the Department
of Culture, Media and Sport.
The Science Museum has over 1.8 million estimated
visitors a year. We have recently completed a major strategic
review across NMSI and established the key principles and features
of our new direction. Our overall purpose is to "engage people
in dialogue, to create meanings from the past, present and future
of human ingenuity."
NMSI will underpin everything we do with six
We create social capital
We champion sustainability
We offer the real thing
We maintain integrity and quality
We encourage boldness and innovation.
In attempting to develop projects that we feel
meet many objectives of the sustainable energy agenda, we have
come across a number of difficulties in obtaining government funding
and support. In this submission we will highlight recent Government
reports and statements about cross-departmental sustainable development
requirements, putting these in the context of projects under development
by NMSI. Particular focus is given to our "Energy Hall"
projectsee section 3 for more detail).
2. RECENT REPORTS
DETRA better quality of life: a strategy
for sustainable development for the United Kingdom (May 1999)
In the DETR produced "A better quality
of life" in May 1999, the Government published a strategy
for the UK that acknowledged that government cannot achieve sustainable
development on its own. The strategy identifies action by business,
local authorities, voluntary groups and all of us as individuals.
It acknowledges that improved awareness of sustainable development
can be a powerful tool for change. In March 1998, the Government
launched "Are you doing your bit?", a campaign in England
focusing on specific issues related to sustainable development,
showing how people can influence their local and global environment.
The report states that "the Government will work with public
bodies, voluntary organisations, business and trade unions to
reinforce the (sustainable development) campaign's messages."
Cabinet Office PIUThe Energy Review (February
The Cabinet Office PIU Energy Review recommended
changes to departmental structures and responsibilities. The review
suggests that in the long-term the Government should be aiming
to bring together the interlinked themes of energy policy, climate
change policy and transport policy in one department of state.
It offers that as an immediate response to the challenge, the
Government should set up a Sustainable Energy Policy Unit that
would be a "cross-cutting unit staffed by civil servants
from all the departments with an interest in sustainable energy,
as well as staff from the Devolved Administrations, external experts
and people from the private sector." The report suggests
that the unit should provide cross-cutting analytical capability,
ensuring that critical developments in energy use and supply were
monitored and assessed, and lead on the development of strategic
policy issues, adapting quickly to changing circumstances. The
report also recommends that a review should be undertaken to ensure
that activities of national agencies that deliver low carbon policies
are fully co-ordinated. The Science Museum supports these recommendations
and suggests that such a co-ordinated unit also become a provider
of funds for exemplary projects that hit a range of aspects important
to the development and evolution of sustainable energy technologies
and public understanding.
The PIU reports also highlights the need for
national public education and debate on the future of UK energy.
The report acknowledges that "although technology has a large
part to play, the implementation of an ambitious low carbon policy
is a demanding task and just as important are changes in attitudes
and assumptions". Commitment to a low-carbon energy policy
implies a general shift in perceptions and actors within and outside
the energy industry would need to evaluate their energy policy
decisions, gradually shifting towards low carbon use. "It
would be wrong to imagine that everything can be `win-win': there
are some hard choices and there will be losers as well as winners.
For this reason the Government needs to take the issues to the
public soon". The report concludes that the Government needs
to immediately conduct an open public debate about energy systems,
covering the issue of security, the shift to a low carbon economy
and the role of the various low carbon technologies, including
nuclear power. With over 1.5 million visitors per year and a wide
geographic reach, an institution such as the Science Museum is
ideally positioned to be involved in such a national public debate.
The report also recommends that consultation carried out in the
aftermath of the PIU review should be seen as only the beginning
of a longer programme of public engagement in energy issues, again
a recommendation that the "Energy Hall" project can
help to deliver.
Cabinet Office PIUResource Productivity:
making more with less (November 2001)
This report also acknowledges that cultural
change will be a key part of moving towards sustainable development.
"It will be important for Government to step up the process
of engaging, educating and preparing society for these changes".
The Science Museum agrees that the need to take forward and adapt
to a significant number of technological, institutional and social
innovations is clear. "If the households, companies and organisations
of the UK are going to accept and be comfortable with these changes,
it will be essential that they understand and accept their role
and purpose. Without this, the effectiveness of policy will be
constrained, and the road towards sustainable development will
be beset with problems rather than opportunities."
Information on its own is unlikely to be enough.
Individuals are much more likely to change their behaviour if
they are given the opportunity and the space to assess the facts,
and to reach their own conclusions concerning the impact of their
resource use on the environment. The report makes particular reference
to the fact that the Science Museum has been pioneering this approach
to interactive information-sharing in its exhibitions on a number
of key issues facing 21st century Britain. Instead of just providing
abstract facts, we place visitors at the centre of the issues
concerned. In doing so, we encourage direct participation in the
debate on these issues, and promote that individual contributions
can make a difference. The report recommends that DEFRA liaise
with DCMS in drawing lessons from the experience of the Science
Museum, in terms of its programmes for encouraging direct participation
and debate. "This sort of approach seems to have merit in
properly engaging the public in a discussion about the important
issues relating to sustainable development and quality of life."
The Science Museum proposes that the "Energy Hall" project
will have all these elements and build on our experiences of such
Cabinet Office PIURenewable energy in the
UK: building for the future of the environment (November 2001)
This Cabinet Office PIU report recommended the
allocation of an additional £100 million announced by the
Prime Minister in March 2001 to support renewable technologies.
The report concluded that "initiatives on the planning front
will not help get renewable energy off the ground unless the public
extends its general support for renewable energy to support for
renewable energy in local situations." This makes community
engagement critical, so that more people are either individually
involved in renewable energy schemes or able to see them. Making
people more aware of the implications of renewable energy will
smooth the planning process and their uptake. With a reach of
over 1.5 million visitors per year, we propose that the "Energy
Hall" project (and similar projects) will engage a wide range
of communities in thinking about renewable energy and related
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's
22nd reportEnergy: The Changing Climate (June 2000)
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's
22nd report concluded that "there is little public awareness
or acceptance of the measures needed to accomplish sustained,
deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions." The government
needs to secure active support by industry, commerce, local authorities
and society in general, and people and organisations should be
made aware of the way in which their use of fossil fuels is contributing
to climate change. They should then be encouraged to take responsibility
for their own reductions in fossil fuel consumption. "The
framework in which energy and environmental policies are devised
must enable people to feel that if they are `doing their bit'
then so are othersincluding local and central government,
large corporations and institutions". Again, we propose that
the "Energy Hall" project (and similar projects) will
assist in raising awareness that everybody can do their bit and
have an impact.
Sustainable Development Education PanelLearning
to create quality of life (January 2002)
The most recent report of the Sustainable Development
Education Panel encourages DfES to seek out and take up other
educational opportunities relevant to sustainable development.
It highlights that many learning opportunities are informal, though
their nature and impact are more difficult to identify because
they often occur outside a recognised educational setting. Informal
learning takes place whenever a person of any age gains knowledge,
skill, understanding or a deepening of values. Examples of this
happening include through copying or coaching, by reading or watching
television, or visiting museums. In these informal situations,
the learner's motivation is high and what is learned often has
a real, practical and immediate impact. The panel believes that
"informal learning is an area of current thinking about sustainable
development education with unrealised potential to make an impact
on the quality of all of our lives." The "Energy Hall"
project would be an exemplar of such informal learning and be
an ideal opportunity to realise the potential of this approach.
The panel is now exploring this "informal
learning" agenda and the report details a number of significant
obstacles to bringing about appropriate changes. These include:
"a clear need to raise awareness and understanding of education
of sustainable development among funders; a hunger for clear and
consistent messages from Government and others; and the need for
clearer and better resourced messages are needed, consistently
reinforced across Government." The panel suggests that were
all relevant Government departments to provide information in
parallel, linked by a communication campaign with common threads,
sustainable development education, leading to positive action
at all levels, would follow.
We are currently developing a project that seeks
to demonstrate, integrate and adopt innovative energy technologies
and practices in the East Hall of the Science Museum, London.
A refurbished atrium roof will be constructed of solar photovoltaic
(PV) panels that will generate electricity for the museum, include
a demonstration wind turbine, and use natural light and new ventilation
arrangements to create an improved internal environment for visitors
and objects. This will replace the existing roof that is both
visually unattractive and leaks.
Exhibits will encourage visitors to think about
how we generate and use energy, climate change issues and sustainable
development futures. We will showcase technologies that will help
us, as individuals, households, schools, businesses and communities,
take positive action to meet the challenges of climate change.
We will demonstrate how the daily choices everyone makes about
how to travel, when to use household appliances, or recycle items,
add up to the big picture of resource use and global climate change.
Estimated project completion is October 2004.
4. PROPOSED SOURCES
We applied for a Government contribution to
funding of the project through the DTI large scale Building Integrated
PV (BIPV) field trial in late 2001. Funding was available through
an open application on the basis of a competitive tender for projects
scheduled for completion by April 2003.
Available funding covered additional PV related
design costs (to a maximum level of £20,000), the purchase
of BIPV equipment (to a maximum £4/W peak of electricity
output from the PV), and for monitoring and assessment (limited
to £40,000). Out of estimated total project costs of the
"Energy Hall" project of £5.5 million (construction
and exhibition), we identified £734,200 eligible under the
specifications of the field trail, for which we applied for a
total of £135,000 (2.5 per cent of estimated total project
cost). This was made up of £15,000 design costs, £80,000
for the 20kW peak output PV array, and £40,000 for monitoring.
The results of the tender analysis were original
expected by 28 February 2002 but were delayed until mid March.
A press notice issued by the DTI on 18 March 2002 confirmed that
we were not successful in the initial funding round. Criteria
for selection seems to have focussed on project delivery by April
2003beyond the "Energy Hall" projects timescales.
However, we have yet to discuss our application with the DTI and
feel that it is prudent to reserve further comment until we have
met with appropriate DTI representatives.
We propose to meet the project funding requirements
through a combination of private sponsor arrangements, allocation
of existing internal funds, and through a possible link to an
existing EU funded project that focuses on energy efficiency and
sustainability in museum buildings. In light of the alignment
of the project with UK Government's sustainable development objectives,
we would also like to seek cross-departmental Government funding.
However, as yet, no such funding appears available for projects
that do not sit within neatly defined criteria of different departments,
but seek to address wider reaching and cross departmental objectives.
As detailed above, our recent DTI application would have only
contributed 2.5 per cent to total project costs. The lack of such
funding suggests that the inherent interdisciplinary aspects of
sustainable development issues are not yet reflected in Government
funding and support programmes.
5. OTHER NMSI
The National Railway Museum is developing a
site at Shildon in the North East of England. NRM are awaiting
a response to their application for funding from the Heritage
Lottery Fund. Discussions continue as to the possible roof integration
of a PV array.
A 250 hectare site in Wroughton, near Swindon.
The initial concept for this site, Creative Planet, is for it
to become a hub and icon for sustainable development in the UK
and world-wide including the "National Living Collections
Centre" and "Centre for Sustainable Development".
Managed by an exhibition development team within
the Science Museum's Trading Company, the redevelopment of the
visitors centre at BNFL's Sellafield plant is nearing completion.
The exhibition will engage visitors with the current debate about
the use of nuclear power, making them feel empowered and better
informed to make decisions by exposing them to a wide range of
information and opinions.
6. UK GOVERNMENT
The UK Government's sustainable development
agenda promotes cross-departmental activities to address economic,
social and environmental development objectives. We feel that
our "Energy Hall" and other projects are well aligned
with such cross-departmental aspirations.
For example, the PV roof demonstrates innovative
technology (DTI), the exhibits will demonstrate and promote domestic
energy technologies and efficient practices (DEFRA), we will discuss
causes and responses to global climate change (DEFRA), address
sustainable development issues (DEFRA), new transport technologies
(DTLR) and address wider sustainable development education requirements
(DfES). The proposed exhibit elements of the project will also
align with the mission and objectives of NMSI and the Science
Museum as sponsored by DCMS.
Recent reports produced by the Cabinet Office
Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) on Renewable Energy Technologies,
Resource Productivity and the UK Energy Review make clear reference
to a range of issues and objectives relevant to Science Museum
projects. The Green Ministers report on "Greening Government"
and the Comprehensive Spending Review 2002 also make reference
to joining up Government thinking on sustainable development.
We have highlighted above some of the conclusions and recommendations
of these and other reports. We offer that these conclusions and
recommendations have yet to be backed by appropriate cross-departmental
sources of funding that would assist exemplar projects such as
those presently under development by the Science Museum.
As detailed in this memorandum, we feel that
the cross-departmental sustainable energy agenda advocated by
industry observers and Government is not yet reflected in a single
point of contact for funding and support. Such a "one-stop
shop" would ease the development of projects that seek to
tackle the range of issues identified for improvement. For example,
demonstration projects of new and innovative energy technologies
could run alongside a dissemination programme (exhibits, web-based
resources, conferences, etc) that provoke a public debate on issues
such as renewable technologies, nuclear power, resource productivity
and individuals contributions to global climate change.
The Science Museum propose that detailed consideration
should be given to establishing a single point of contact for
funding and support for exemplary projects that meet cross-departmental
sustainable development objectives. Not only will such projects
address the cross-departmental needs of sustainable development
and energy futures, they may also encourage further and necessary
cross-departmental activities and co-ordination within Government.