Professor Derek Bunn

Professor Derek Bunn

Professor Derek Bunn

Professor Derek Bunn is a Professor of Decision Sciences at London Business School.

Interview with Professor Derek Bunn

What do you find most interesting about the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business?

I think the Centre does something that I particularly like to do; working at the interface of research and industry. You hear a lot of people talking about it, but it’s not so common. Many ‘think tanks’ [bodies of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems] don’t draw on academic work, and plenty of university centres of research talk only to other university centres. But to actually operate at that interface, to be taken seriously by high profile people in industry and in policymaking, and to bring good research forward is impressive.

What’s the most useful feature of the Erasmus Energy Forum event?

This will be the first time I have attended. I sense that its value is in the quality and diversity as well as the profile of the event. Past events are well-documented online – I’m sure people appreciate open access to the content of past events, even if they didn’t pay to come, and this is very good in terms of impact. Most conferences only give paying participants access to conference presentations.

Some commercial conferences have similar content but don’t have quite the same profile of speakers, so there’s a lot of attraction in terms of its quality and its impact. It positions itself well. Not many events have achieved this in just three years.

Why will participants find your presentation useful?

I’ll be looking ahead and exploring the way we use modelling in the future energy industry. The working title of my presentation is ‘Making Big Decisions with Inadequate Models’. The energy sector has always been model-intensive in its decision-making, but policy interventions have become more intrusive, especially for electricity, and new policies have been based on very fragile models.

Questions I’ll address include how policy-makers and analysts model future investment behaviour, and can we believe in the models? How should risk be incorporated into planning? How does policy risk affect the behaviour of companies? And is the evolution of the electricity sector going to become more risky and what will that mean?

Will your presentation contain any exclusives?

In general, yes. The electricity market is going to become more risky, despite policymakers talking about ‘de-risking the market’. In reality I think they are making it more risky, and I’ll be giving some of the reasons why.

Which of our other speakers or presentations are you most interested in hearing, and why?

The schedule of speakers across the spectrum is very appealing, in terms of the different perspectives coming in. That cross-section should be very stimulating.

Can you give an indication of how your department at the London Business School (LBS) is preparing for the changes in the energy market?

I think the students are leading the changes. One of the remarkable things at LBS is the level of interest in the energy sector among the student body. The student-run Energy Club is completely autonomous and by far the most active in the school, even surpassing the finance and marketing clubs. Faculty are not involved.

What are your goals?

I have worked in this sector as an academic and advisor my whole professional life, and I want to continue to research all the surprises presented by the energy market. Over the past 30 years it has never failed to surprise me. The field is never over-researched; there is always a new agenda such as the emergence of greater competition, the increase in concerns about climate, or the range of disruptive innovations in the industry.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I hope that will I still get the same kind of fulfilment from research programme that I do at the moment, from a succession of new students asking new questions.