Lord Callanan was welcomed to University College London (UCL) East by Professor Paola Lettieri, Dr Alex Rettie, and Dr James Robinson (all UCL Chemical Engineering), and was given a tour of UCL’s new cutting-edge hydrogen research facilities including the Advanced Propulsion Lab.
Also giving a keynote speech was Shadow Minister for Energy Security and Labour MP for Southampton Test, Dr Alan Whitehead, who highlighted the important role universities will play in answering some of the key questions posed by the growing hydrogen economy.
Hosted by UCL’s Hydrogen Innovation Network, the showcase demonstrated UCL’s capabilities as a leading hub for hydrogen activity and innovation in the UK and brought together some of the leading voices on hydrogen research within industry, academia and government.
With a focus on new technologies, production methods, measurements, storage, logistics, and applications, the event emphasised collaboration as the most effective way to realise the true potential of hydrogen along the route to net zero and a sustainable energy future.
Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said: “Low carbon hydrogen will be critical to supporting the UK’s energy security and achieving our net zero goals by 2050. With the potential to support over 12,000 jobs and up to £11 billion in private investment by 2030, we are leaving no stone unturned as we boost the UK’s hydrogen economy – including through exciting new research and innovation.”
UCL’s Hydrogen Innovation Network was set up in 2022 to address challenges around green hydrogen production and its use for both transport and stationary applications. Now in its second phase, the network has ten external partners within academia, industry and government that support research into using hydrogen to transition away from the combustion of fossil fuels in the UK.
The UCL Hydrogen Innovation Network is led by Dr Alex Rettie (UCL Chemical Engineering), who said: “Hydrogen is going to be a hugely important part of the transition to net zero and we noticed that it was very difficult to keep track of all of the rapid developments, so we started the UCL Hydrogen Innovation Network two years ago to bring industry, government and academia together to try and get a handle on this fast-moving field and identify the key challenges we should be working on.
“Getting people together from different fields speaking to each other leads to a lot of outputs in the form of grant funding and industry and academia collaboration. The future of hydrogen is big and, in combination with batteries and other forms of energy storage technology, crucial to achieving net zero.”
During his speech, the Shadow Minister for Energy Security Dr Alan Whitehead outlined how a Labour government would approach hydrogen and stressed the importance of UCL and other higher education institutions in facilitating its application into the UK’s fuel network.
said: “Hydrogen has a substantial role to play in our transition to net zero, and Labour is committed to developing the hydrogen economy and seizing the opportunities it will bring for good jobs and thriving industry.
“Realising these opportunities will take the combined efforts of the government – including through Labour’s national energy champion Great British Energy and a new National Wealth Fund – the private sector, and the UK’s world-leading research community.
“Of course, there are many important questions still to answer, so I look forward to UCL and other universities making a central contribution to our understanding of how and where hydrogen can best contribute, in what sectors it can have the greatest impact, and how we ought to roll it out across the country.”