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UK experts convene at Loughborough University to engineer our Low Carbon Future

MEC EngD student Bilaal Hussain demonstrates the functionality of gCCS – a carbon capture and storage modelling tool-kit developed from an ETI project

More than 180 leading academics from across the UK gathered at Loughborough University yesterday to participate in a Low Carbon Future Showcase.

The event – co-hosted by the Midlands Energy Consortium (MEC) and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) – provided delegates with the opportunity to explore ETI-supported programmes and projects that bring together energy experts from academia, industry and the UK Research Councils 

The day-long programme featured an exhibition showcasing 26 projects including a collaboration between Loughborough University, Johnson Matthey and Caterpillar to reduce heavy duty vehicle exhaust emissions; and the ETI-developed CO2 Stored – a UK CO2 storage evaluation database now licensed to The Crown Estate and the British Geological Survey – to map the UK’s offshore carbon dioxide storage capacity.

The defining feature of these diverse ventures is the drive to develop secure and sustainable low-carbon technologies to help reduce the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050.

The event’s Modelling Zone provided live demonstrations of six ETI-funded models, including ESME (Energy System Modelling Environment) – the ETI’s internationally peer-reviewed national energy system design and planning capability. ESME has supported the work of the Climate Change Committee around UK carbon budgets as well as the Department for Energy and Climate Change to inform recent energy strategies.

Software licences for the models displayed are available to academics undertaking relevant energy research.

Keynote speaker Professor Jim Skea – RCUK Energy Strategy Fellow and Professor of Sustainable Energy in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London – spoke about how to make the right connections to successfully innovate for a fit for purpose 2050 energy system.

The day closed with an expert panel discussion, chaired by Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University, Professor Robert Allison. He was joined by Professor Jim Skea, Dr Catherine Butler – Advanced Research Fellow in Environment and Sustainability at the University of Exeter; Tom Mawhood – Investment Director at Turning Point Two; Jo Coleman – Strategy Director for the ETI; and Dr Dominic Emery – VP Long-term planning for BP.

The discussion explored ways in which the 2050 targets can be met economically, but with maximum social impacts and benefits.

The ensuing debate looked at the progress made by the UK towards meeting its legally binding climate change targets – highlighting the need for real collaboration, public engagement, and the importance of sharing research and knowledge to build a robust evidence base to help policy makers make informed decisions.

The MEC – comprising the British Geological Survey and the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick – drives energy research and training in energy storage, carbon capture and storage, and low carbon transport.

Professor Steve Rothberg – Loughborough's Pro Vice Chancellor for Enterprise and a member of the MEC board – said: “Meeting the 2050 UK emissions reduction targets is crucial to ensuring a secure and sustainable future. Collaborations between organisations like the MEC and ETI – and the opportunities presented by events such as today’s Showcase – underpin the technological innovations that will help us to reduce our dependency on harmful and dwindling fossil fuels.”

Headquartered on Loughborough University’s Science and Enterprise Parks, the ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies and the UK Government. It brings together engineering projects to accelerate the development of affordable, clean, secure technologies needed to help the UK address its long-term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits.

Dr David Clarke, ETI Chief Executive, said: “Any successful low carbon transition in the UK requires collaboration – no one entity can deliver it alone. The UK has a great opportunity to be a world leader in low carbon innovation – we have both the academic skills and industrial base, but we must work together to develop a robust evidence base from which informed decisions can be made.

“Events like today are instrumental in bringing together key stakeholders to share and learn from each other – opening up much needed dialogue and laying the groundwork for future collaborations.”