ERA Conference:
A race against time – energy innovation for Net-Zero

Thurs 25 Jan 2024
Cranfield University’s Aerospace Centre

Aim of conference This in person conference aims to discuss the role that energy innovation is playing in achieving Net-Zero and to discuss the Energy Research Accelerator’s plans for the future. Throughout the day we will be focusing on our key themes including:

  • Energy Generation and Systems
  • Transport and Mobility
  • Sustainability and People
  • Decarbonising Industry
  • Data and AI
  • Skills for the Net-Zero transition

09.00: Arrival and refreshments

09.30: Welcome and Introduction:

  • Prof Chris Fogwill, Cranfield University

09.50: A race against time, the role and challenges of energy research and innovation in achieving Net-Zero:

  • Keynote speaker: Rachel Fletcher, Director of Regulation, Octopus Energy

10.20: ERA’s national activities:

  • Prof Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator

10.40: Panel discussion on National Energy Innovation Challenges with senior representatives from industry and academia, including:

  • Michelle Bentham Chief Scientist for Decarbonisation and Resource Management, British Geological Survey (BGS)

  • David Wright, Director of Electricity Transmission, National Grid
  • Tom Greatrex, CEO, Nuclear Industries Association
  • Dennis Hayter, MD, Intelligent Energy

11.30: Refreshments and Networking

11.50: Regional Energy Developments and Opportunities:

  • Faye McAnulla, Programme Director ERA

12.05: Panel discussion on Midlands energy opportunities with senior leaders from the public and private sector:

  • Ian Cuddington, Director of Economic Development, Rolls-Royce
  • Kelly Manders, Regional Development Manager, Cadent
  • David Horsfall, Director, Tyseley Energy Park
  • Katie Greenhalgh, Green Growth Lead, East Midlands Freeport

13.00: Lunch and Networking

  • Lunch break to include Early Career Researcher Posters and presentations in Foyer
  • Optional tours of Cranfield energy facilities:

    The HyPER demonstrator – HyPER can produce hundreds of kg of hydrogen each day. It is a megawatt scale pilot facility that utilises sorbent enhanced reforming to generate clean hydrogen. The pilot sized demonstrator can be of use to any business developing anything from hydrogen/Co2 leak detection, gas analysis, pipe fittings/gaskets non-destructive testing and evaluation of metals and pipes, gas compressors and purification systems etc.

    The Turquoise Hydrogen demonstrator – The Turquoise Hydrogen demonstrator consists of a central upright fixed fluidised bed reactor which generates hydrogen from methane, with built in mechanisms for heating and heat recovery. In the reactor, methane molecules are split into their constituents, H2 and carbon. This pilot reactor has an in-built system to separate gaseous H2 and remove the solid carbon

  • Optional – Test drive Tesla car

14.10: Breakout groups, exploring collaborative ideas in several ERA research themes:

  • Energy and the Built Environment – Dominika Walker, (Tomato Energy)

  • Transport and Mobility – Faye McAnulla and Martin Freer (ERA/University of Birmingham)

  • Decarbonising Industry – Vasilije Manovic and Phil Longhurst (Cranfield University)

  • Data and AI – Rob Shipman (University of Nottingham)

  • Skills – Lennie Foster (ERA), Keith Wishart (IBM), Swathi (C-DICE post doc), Nazmiye Ozkan (Cranfield)

  • Hydrogen Storage – Kat Mycock (HyDEX) and Gordon Arnott (University of Nottingham)

Each group to focus on one of ERA’s themes and developing one or two ‘Big Ideas’ for industry and universities to work together on.

15.10: Groups to feedback to the conference on their ideas

15.30: Summary of day and next steps:

  • Prof Martin Freer

15.50: Close

register here

Calling all doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, we invite you to create an engaging and informative poster on your research that will be displayed during the conference.

There is a £100 prize for the best doctoral researcher poster and £100 for the best post-doctoral researcher poster.

To enter the competition simply :

and email it to the ERA Skills Manager Lennie Foster by Tuesday 16 January 2024.

Rachel Fletcher

Rachel Fletcher joined Octopus Energy as Director for Regulation and Economics in April 2021, having been Ofwat’s Chief Executive for three years. There she worked to strengthen the water industry’s focus on its public purpose, to increase its effectiveness in improving the environment and to lay the foundations for investment in regional transfers required to meet the country’s future water requirements.

She was a Senior Director and a Board member of Ofgem for many years, leading work on smart grids, wholesale market improvements and the shift to principle based retail regulation. Rachel started her career in u:li:es as a consultant where, having gained experience in advising on the introduction of third party access onto the gas network following the break up of British Gas, she worked on a large number of international energy industry privatisation and restructuring projects. She has joined Octopus Energy to help bring about the energy system changes needed to achieve net zero quickly and affordably.

Michelle Bentham

Michelle Bentham is the chief scientist for decarbonisation and resource management at the British Geological Survey (BGS).

Michelle is a geoscientist with over 20 years of experience in the field of energy decarbonisation at BGS, with a focus on carbon capture and storage. She has worked on a large range of decarbonisation projects, including working with the research community, industry and government as a senior research scientist and project leader. Michelle’s research has focused on the potential for carbon dioxide storage in the UK, focusing on developing a portfolio of storage solutions and classification schemes

David Wright

David joined National Grid in 1992 as an electrical engineer and has worked his way up to his current position as Director Electricity Transmission Asset Management. In this capacity he is responsible for our electricity transmission network, delivering safe, reliable electricity supplies efficiently across England and Wales. He oversees a £1bn per year investment programme delivering the highest level of network reliability in Europe.

David has worked for National Grid for 21yrs occupying management positions on both our gas and electricity networks in the UK. He has managed our electricity transmission network in the USA, led our gas transmission field force as well as teams in both our gas and electricity control centres. Prior to joining National he worked for VSEL (now BAE) the only submarine builder in the UK, designing electrical generation and distribution systems for warships.

He is a Fellow of the IET, duel accredited Chartered Engineer with both IET and IGEM and a member of the Institute of Asset Management. David lives in Northamptonshire and has two teenage daughters and is passionate about rugby having played for a number of years .

Tom Greatrex

Tom Greatrex became Chief Executive of the NIA in 2016. Formerly Member of Parliament for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tom was shadow energy minister from 2011 – 2015 and served as a member of the Energy Select Committee from 2010 and from 2007-2010 was a policy adviser in the Scotland Office, including on energy.

In a varied prior career, he was a Director of Corporate Affairs for the NHS in Scotland, a chief officer in local government and a GMB trade union official in England. Outside of work his main interests are family, football (Fulham) and film. He is a member of the FA Council, the governing body of English football, vice-chair of the Football Supporters’ Association and a school governor.

Dennis Hayter

Dennis was part of the group involved in founding the UK fuel cell power technology and engineering company Intelligent Energy (IE) in 2001. He focused on business development and commercialisation of its PEM fuel cell technologies for a range of markets including automotive, aviation, stationary and portable power.

IE is now owned by Meditor Energy, part of the Meditor Group. Dennis currently covers External Affairs for IE and on behalf of IE is Deputy Chair of the Hydrogen London group; Chair of the UK H2Mobility grouping; and a Director of the USA Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA). He is also Vice Chair of the UK Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association and Chairman of the UK Centre of Excellence in Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies – Cenex.

Dennis had previously been a Practice Leader at the global consulting firm of Booz Allen & Hamilton, a Principal with AT Kearney; and a Partner with Roland Berger & Partners Strategy Consultants. He was previously the Managing Director of MERC (Netherlands) and the co-founder of the shipping and logistics firm MDS Transmodal. He is an Economist by profession.

Ian Cuddington

Ian Cuddington is the Director of Economic Development for Rolls-Royce Group, leading on global public investment in support of the company’s activities.

He is a member of the ADS Council and was a member of the ADS Board prior to this from 2020 – 2023. Ian represents Rolls-Royce at the Aerospace Growth Partnership Board. He is also a member of the University of Derby Business School Council.

Before his current role, Ian was VP Business Development for Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, leading on strategic planning business development opportunities. Prior to that, Ian held leadership and senior management roles in Corporate Development.

He has a depth of aerospace industry experience, having worked for Rolls-Royce for 20 years since joining as a graduate. Ian was born in Derby in 1980 and graduated with a first class degree in Chemistry from Oxford University.

Dr Kelly Manders

Dr Kelly Manders is Cadent’s Regional Development Manager for the Eastern region and North London. In her current role, Kelly is responsible for our regional hydrogen transition programmes, including East Coast Hydrogen, Capital Hydrogen and Hydrogen Valley. This involves stakeholder engagement, consortium building and working with partners to understand their decarbonisation ambitions.

A chemist by background, Kelly is committed to helping the UK transition to net zero and a low carbon future. Prior to joining Cadent in 2022, Kelly has been working in stakeholder engagement, policy development, research and innovation implementation for over 20 years.

David Horsfall

David Horsfall, Property Director, Webster and Horsfall Group and Director of Tyseley Energy Park.

A Chartered Surveyor with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Having worked within the development industry for 10 years David joined Webster & Horsfall in 2008 to lead the delivery of Tyseley Energy Park (TEP).

Since 2008 David has been working with industry, academics and local government, harnessing the vision, passion and innovation of stakeholders from across the region to create a first of a kind Energy Park that will deliver low and zero carbon power, transport, heat, waste and recycling solutions to underpin the transition to a low or zero carbon future.

Born out of Webster and Horsfall’s 300 year-old manufacturing business, TEP continues the theme of industrial innovation and seeks to create new systems and collaborative working opportunities that ensures Birmingham is the epicentre of the new green industrial revolution.

Katie Greenhalgh

Katie has over a decade of experience in the energy, climate change and sustainability sector, spanning consultancy, project management, strategic and leadership roles. She is currently the Green Growth and Innovation Lead at the East Midlands Freeport, responsible for delivery of ambitious net zero and innovation agendas across three significant development sites – Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster and East Midlands Intermodal Park – and the wider Freeport boundary.

Past experience includes leading a c. £30m deep domestic retrofit innovation programme, developing and delivering Leicestershire’s Net Zero Strategy and Action Plan and managing the Clean and Green outcome of the council’s Strategic Plan, project managing an integrated depot-scale V2G, battery storage and Solar PV system with associated infrastructure upgrade, and acting as lead assessor for ISO14001 and ESOS compliance.