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EPSRC Hydrogen Hubs Launch

26th – 27th September 2023

The first day of the EPSRC Hydrogen Hubs Launch event was dedicated to a public unveiling and celebration of the UK Hub for Research Challenges in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels (UK-HyRES) and the Hydrogen Innovation for Accelerated Energy Transitions Hub (HI-ACT). It was a day filled with insights, discussions, and a shared vision for the future of hydrogen in the UK.

Day 1: 26th September 2023 – EPSRC Hydrogen Hubs Launch  

Dr. Dawei Wu, (HI-ACT Co-I, University of Birmingham), extended a warm welcome to Birmingham. Prof. Sara Walker (HI-ACT Director) and Prof. Tim Mays (UK-HyRES Director), representing the hubs, followed with their greetings and thanked everyone for their contributions to this point. Councillor Lisa Trickett from Birmingham City Council delivered a keynote address, highlighting the importance of hydrogen in sustainable urban development and emphasising the need for a just transition that addresses fuel poverty.

The next session featured an overview of HI-ACT by Prof. Jianzhong Wu (HI-ACT Co-Director, Cardiff University). UK-HyRES was positioned by Prof. Rachael Rothman, UK-HyRES Co-Director at the University of Sheffield, who delved into our unique Hub structure and large, accessible, flexible fund (>£4M). Prof. Rothman discussed our journey so far and the ways for stakeholders to not only engage, but actively shape research that delivers impact. The audience also had the privilege of viewing a video message from The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore OBE MP, who stressed the importance of taking people along on the journey to net zero and the need for agility and flexibility as strategic drivers for change.

The plenary session introduced the Joint Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), co-chaired by Rita Wadey and Prof. David Grant (Energy Institute Director, University of Nottingham). The session also included fantastic presentations by Prof. Henry Tse on the opportunities that the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII) partnership offers and Dr. Allan Simpson of Equilibrion discussed the role of Nuclear Enabled Hydrogen, who remarked, “It’s time to diversify our thinking”.

A panel discussion on “Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels in a Net Zero Economy,” moderated by Celia Greaves, featured industry experts: Bethan Winter – Wales & West Utilities – System Operations Manager, Prof Xiaohong Li – University of Exeter – Professor of Renewable Energy, Dr Mark Bankhead – National Nuclear Laboratory – Technology Manager Hydrogen and Helen McColm – Department for Energy Security and Net Zero – Joint Head of Hydrogen Theme.

The day concluded with engaging discussions in the “Hydrogen Futures – Meet the Investigators” session, where attendees explored future research opportunities and priorities for the hubs. It was an enriching day filled with knowledge sharing and networking, marked by a shared commitment to a sustainable future.

Day 2: 27th September 2023 – Cross-Hub Meetings and SAB Inaugural Gathering

The second day of the event shifted focus to cross-hub collaboration between the two Hub teams and the inaugural meeting of the Joint Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). It was a day dedicated to strategic discussions and planning for the future.

In the Cross-Hub meeting Dr. Chris Jones (UK-HyRES Social Theme Lead) led the UK-HyRES team, while Prof. Jianzhong Wu led the HI-ACT team. These meetings included discussions on joint case study projects and stakeholder engagement plans, fostering collaboration and project development.

Following a coffee break, the focus turned to stakeholder engagement planning. Dr Rajan Jagpal (UK-HyRES Researcher) delivered a workshop on stakeholder engagement and strategy.

Parallel to the Cross-Hub Meting, the SAB convened for its inaugural meeting. Featuring roundtable discussions, steer from the co-chairs, and updates on HI-ACT and UK-HyRES progress. SAB members actively contributed their thoughts on research challenges, systems integration, and stakeholder engagement, reflecting the strategic drivers for change set by Chris Skidmore and Lisa Trickett.

The day concluded with a cross-hub debriefing session, where valuable insights and learnings were shared. Prof. Tim Mays and Prof. Sara Walker warmly thanked all attendees and closed the meetings.

Both days of the EPSRC Hydrogen Hubs Launch event were marked by collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a shared commitment to advancing hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels research for a sustainable future. The event served as a vital stepping stone towards achieving the goals of the Hydrogen Hubs and their mission to drive innovation in the hydrogen sector.

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