Fuelling Collaboration – Advancing Hydrogen Integration through Strategic Partnerships

By Prof Sara Walker

As a Hub, we have a responsibility to be a catalyst for the community who are interested in hydrogen integration. We are also expected to collaborate with the wider energy community, through the major UKRI investments in this space. So how do we do this, in reality?

One way is through advisory boards. It is an excellent way to keep up to date with activities which are happening within other big projects/centres/hubs. So I am involved in advisory boards for UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), Supergen Energy Networks Hub, and UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC). I am delighted to soon be joining the Advisory Board for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Engineering Hydrogen Net Zero, known as EnerHy.

Another way is through joint events. A chance to mix, as a community, with those working on adjacent subject areas brings some fascinating insights. In our first year, we have held joint webinars with UKCCSRC, UK-HyRES, and UKERC. We also collaborated on the development and delivery of an early career conference involving a fantastic mix of attendees from across the community, including C-DICE, CO2RE, EDI+, ERA, SUSTAIN, UK-HyRES, and Supergen Bioenergy Hub.

There is cross fertilisation of ideas as a result of our consortium members being involved in other research projects. So we have academics who are also working within the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC), UKERC, Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC), Supergen Energy Networks Hub, and UK-HyRES. We are learning from projects in other ways. Best practise on flexible funds are informed through conversations with ACCESS, and advice on equality diversity and inclusion comes through events held by IGNITE+, UKERC and EDRC, for example.

The value of collaboration is sometimes more, and sometimes less tangible. For example:

  • Through collaboration with UK-HyRES, colleagues on that project have been willing to champion HI-ACT [and vice versa!] at conferences and in conversations.

  • Through involvement in Supergen Energy Networks Hub Advisory Board, I was able to take part in a video and highlight the importance of work on whole energy systems and alternative fuels. Pursuing Low Carbon Energy (youtube.com)

  • Conversations with IDRIC colleagues who are also on HI-ACT, has helped the WP4 team to reflect on the types of communities with whom we might want to engage, helping to inform our methodology.

  • Greater awareness of HI-ACT’s work across the academic community has enabled us to be involved in the planning, delivery and post-event report for a Royal Society event on green hydrogen, and attend a Royal Academy of Engineering exchange visit to India.

Regardless of the extent of the impact and outcome, we continue to engage with our academic community because it is the right thing to do. Acting with integrity, collaborating with purpose, to bring a low carbon future closer to reality.