UK & Ireland Featured Project: NGN - Design Management

QEM Solutions are assisting NGN with Design Co-ordination activities, to ensure successful project initiation and design management of all current NGN projects.

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Overseas Featured Project: Capita Symonds - Valve Inspections

QEM Solutions were contracted to carry 3rd party inspection and witnessing activities on a series of valves fabricated in Germany for a series of SGN contracts throughout Scotland.

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11 Mar 2022

How going green can bring down Putin

Over two million Ukrainian refugees are now displaced from their homes and families. Thousands more flee Russian bombardment in terrible weather, carrying their children, pets and what belongings they can.

While QEM gathers emergency supplies to be sent to Ukraine – efforts that feel like a drop in the ocean – we’re mindful that the energy industry in which we work could be the very weapon that brings down Putin’s military machine.  

‘No thanks’ to Russian oil

The UK currently imports around 8% of its oil and 4% of its natural gas from Russia, but not for much longer. On 8 March, Boris Johnson told press that he would set out a detailed energy supply strategy soon. Meantime, we know three facts, as stated on GOV.UK:

  • UK to phase out the import of Russian oil during the course of the year in response to illegal invasion of Ukraine
  • government establishes a new joint taskforce with industry to work together on an orderly transition
  • move will increase the growing pressure on Russia’s economy by choking off a valuable source of income

The intentions are clear – the UK is not going to put any money in the hands of a dictator, no matter how uncomfortable the consequences. So, what happens instead?

A short-term return to hydrocarbons

Boris Johnson is realistic that we can’t transform energy supply overnight, creating a troubling dilemma:

‘We have got to make sure we have substitute supply. One of the things we are looking at is the possibility of using more of our own hydrocarbons. That doesn’t mean we are in any way abandoning our commitment to reducing CO2 but we have got to reflect the reality that there is a crunch on at the moment. We need to increase our self-reliance.’

So, the UK will likely see a return to fossil fuels short-term, while the nation scrambles to find sustainable alternatives. Fracking might be back on the cards too. These choices will dismay many, and the road ahead will be expensive. But compared to what Ukraine is enduring right now, that feels like a small price to pay for hobbling Putin.

A greener answer long-term?

What of the future? The answer lies in countries like ours re-doubling their efforts towards a greener future – not only to save our planet, but to stop nutters like Putin. We can do this. Renewable energy overtook fossil fuels to be the biggest source of electricity in the UK in 2020. Couple this with the ground-breaking trials of hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas in the UK network, and it’s not hard to imagine a sustainable energy future. No-one has put the importance of this better than Bill McKibben in the Guardian, so we won’t embarrass ourselves trying. Advocating a global move to renewables, he writes:

‘The best reason to deploy it immediately is to ward off the existential crisis that is climate change, and the second best is to stop the killing of nine million people annually who die from breathing in the particulates that fossil fuel combustion produces. But the third best reason – and perhaps the most plausible for rousing our leaders to action – is that it dramatically reduces the power of autocrats, dictators, and thugs.’

Now, we know that achieving an entirely clean energy future is more complicated than McKibben’s compelling copy suggests, but – for the brave people of Ukraine – let’s get to work on it.