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Distinguished Lecture Series in Energy: Dr. Mark O’Malley

Electricity First then the Rest: An Advantageous and Ambitious Timetable for Decarbonisation?

Distinguished Lecture Series in Energy

The next presentation in the Distinguished Lecture Series in Energy, featuring Dr. Mark O’Malley, the Leverhulme Professor of Power Systems at Imperial College London and a Fellow of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University, will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CDT (UTC -5:00) in the Frederick E. Giesecke Engineering Research Building (GERB) Third Floor Conference Room and through a Zoom Meeting. The topic will be “Electricity First then the Rest: An Advantageous and Ambitious Timetable for Decarbonisation?”


It is now almost universally accepted that decarbonisation of the global economy will first require decarbonisation of electricity in parallel with the electrification of significant parts of the economy and the direct decarbonisation of other parts of the economy. These other parts of the economy are sometimes referred to as the last 20 %, hard to decarbonise, etc. and there is a tendency to assume that electricity can be decarbonised with relative ease. In theory, this is largely true as we have the technologies, but the cost will be extremely high without very significant research breakthroughs in new cheaper technologies, clever systems, and societal solutions. It is important to note that these high costs will not be caused by the core generation technologies – wind and solar PV which are now amongst the cheapest forms of generation but are the so-called “integration costs” that occur because of the unique nature of electricity i.e., real-time supply-demand balance across continental scale networks that is radically changing in its physical nature because of the replacement of classical synchronous machines with power electronic interfaces. In this context, with so many changes, it is appropriate and potentially advantageous to take a holistic and ambitious stance towards how best this is all to be achieved, not forgetting the potential for nuclear and other technologies.  For example, there may be benefits to considering the details of what is not to be electrified and what are the parts of the economy that are “marginal” concerning electrification as here there may be significant cost reductions to be gained.


Dr. Mark O’ Malley
Dr. Mark O’ Malley

Mark O’Malley is the Leverhulme Professor of Power Systems at Imperial College London. He is a co-founder of the Global Power System Transformation Consortium and a Fellow of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University.  

Between 2020 and 2022 he was the Chief Scientist at the Energy Systems Integration Group and between 2018 and 2020 he was the Chief Scientist, Energy Systems Integration at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA.  In 2017 he was the James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor in Electrical Engineering at McGill University.

He is recognized as a world authority on Energy Systems Integration and in grid integration of renewable energy.  He works closely and collaboratively with industry and researchers across the globe in a multitude of disciplines, including economics, social scientists, mathematicians, and geologists to address the challenges of transitioning the energy system.

He is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and a foreign fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering and has received two Fulbright Fellowships.