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[ ECA Electrical Industry Conference 2010 ]


The first issue of ECA Today was revealed to delegates by group chief executive David Pollock during his typically informative and eclectic opening presentation. Interweaving the themes of work and words in his address, David discussed forms of written communication, from 5,000 year-old cuneiform to the internet, and its powerful role in transforming the world through the transmission of thoughts, ideas and information. The wide-ranging address focused on the key issues facing the electrical industry, from the sustainability agenda

and resisting the erosion of standards, to training, skills and the future of M&E co-operation. Launching ECA Today he told

delegates: ‘It is in a real way, a portrait of the association,

one that provides you and your clients and business associates with a real picture of the ECA – its values, its news, its range, its liveliness and above all its relevance and importance.’

Cable warning

‘Anybody who buys and installs an unmarked cable is taking an enormous risk… they are fools, and they are very, very dangerous fools.’ That was the stark warning from Michael Simms, president of the British Cables Association, as he highlighted the potentially lethal dangers posed by counterfeit and non-approved cabling. Outlining the work of the ACI

In his keynote address, group chief executive officer David Pollock launches ECA Today

Illuminating examples n

Upgrading and refurbishment of lighting in the existing building stock is a key area where energy efficiency upgrades can make a significant impact on carbon reduction targets, Eddie Taylor, chief executive of the Lighting Industry Federation, told the conference. With more than 75 per cent of buildings using lighting that’s over 25 years old, there are huge opportunities for the industry in promoting energy efficient lighting. However, more has to

do be done to raise awareness of compliance, regulatory requirements and the need for upgrading to more energy efficient lighting. Taylor provided a snapshot

of where the lighting industry is at the moment, covering developments in lighting technology, where high value- added products are offering opportunities for both existing manufacturers and new high- tech entrants to the market.

On the carbon reduction

agenda, Taylor addressed the opportunities presented by regulatory requirements. He called for more effective financial incentive schemes for upgrading to more energy efficient lighting, and cited the Carbon Trust Loan scheme as a good example. He called on the industry to work together to embrace the opportunities the new agenda presents (see our Making light work article on pages 18-21).

Low carbon opportunities require balance

Addressing the carbon reduction agenda requires a balance between new technology and simple solutions that are readily available, despite the perception by some that it’s all about future very smart solutions, Alan Birks, president of BEAMA, told the conference. And while emerging smart grid technology, smart meters and renewable technologies will have a key role in reducing UK carbon emissions, the electrical industry has to grasp the opportunities

presented by these technologies, or risk other players from outside moving into the market. Birks emphasised how using

existing technology was an important part of the sustainability agenda, and stressed that we had to think of the system as a whole, to reduce inefficiency and energy losses, rather than simply looking at future technology solutions. For instance, using lighting control systems or variable speed drives to boost efficiency, and choosing

more energy efficient products in installations, which can radically reduce energy consumption – with relatively little effort, and short payback times. With increased demand for

photovoltaics and other renewables, more electric vehicle charging points, and the roll out of smart metering, Birks warned that the electrical industry had to take ownership of this area, or risk others – such as utilities, retailers and media companies – taking advantage.

(Approved Cables Initiative), Simms illustrated some of the steps being taken to eliminate the use of unsafe, non-approved and counterfeit cable – with some estimates suggesting up to 20 per cent of cabling coming into the UK could be unsafe (see High wire act on pages 28-30 for more on this). Government data has shown that some 30 per cent of electrical fires are attributable to wire and cable – and in the last five years there have been 15 fatalities. Simms said the ACI was ‘one of the most important campaigns that the electrical supply industry has tackled in the last 20 years’. As well as promoting the ACI,

Simms identified opportunities for growth within the industry. He forecast continued weakness this year but slow recovery from 2011 onwards, driven primarily by private projects investment. Infrastructure projects, including distribution, rail, transmission, piping to the home and renewables will help drive any recovery, and he predicted an increased environmental and sustainability focus in the industry.

Michael Simms warns of cabling dangers

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 37

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