ERA partner universities to lead £20m ‘Global Centers’ in Clean Energy

Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) partners – Birmingham and Cranfield universities […]

Published On: October 19, 2023
ERA universities chosen to lead Global Centers for Clean Energy

Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) partners – Birmingham and Cranfield universities – have been selected as the UK leads for two of the four ‘Global Center’ programmes focused on new clean energy solutions.

The Global Centers programme will conduct innovative research to tackle hard-to-decarbonise sectors across the economy, accelerating transformative technological innovation and driving the energy transition to reach the UK’s net zero targets by 2050.

The University of Birmingham will be spearheading the Global Center for Clean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions (CLEETS), with funding of £6.2 million for Birmingham and Cardiff universities from UK Research and Innovation, and $5m for US partners from the National Science Foundation.

Led by Prof Jonathan Radcliffe in the UK, CLEETS will focus on decarbonising road transport, with a particular emphasis on three key regions, the West Midlands and South Wales in the UK, and the Great Lakes mega-region of the US. Ashish Sharma, from the Discovery Partners Institute, part of the University of Illinois System, will be the CLEETS Director in the US.

This project aims to tackle the pressing issue of emissions from the transportation sector, which currently accounts for 24% of the UK’s total emissions. CLEETS will develop sustainable transportation strategies, enhance travel and energy efficiency, optimise transport energy infrastructure for zero-emission clean energy and connected vehicles, and model their collective impact on climate change.

At the same time, Prof Nazmiye Ozkan from Cranfield University will lead the UK partnership for the Global Centre on Hydrogen Production Technologies (HyPT). This is a £14.1m programme which aims to develop responsible hydrogen production technologies and systems with net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. The UKRI funds £6.2M of the total project costs with the remaining funds from the National Science Foundation (USA), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada).

The HyPT project is led by Prof Meng Tao at Arizona State University, in collaboration with University of Adelaide, and University of Toronto, alongside UK universities including Cranfield, Birmingham, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Newcastle as well as experts from Egypt and Germany .

HyPT will focus on water electrolysis including renewable energy integration and electrolysers; methane pyrolysis; and photocatalytic solar water splitting.
Professor Karen Holford, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, and Chair of the Midlands Innovation group of universities which forms the ERA partnership, said: “I am delighted that Birmingham and Cranfield, two of the Energy Research Accelerator and Midlands Innovation partners, are leading the UK’s involvement in the Global Centers and I congratulate all involved in putting together the successful bids.

“The Global Center initiative is a very prestigious and important energy programme, and the decision to select Birmingham and Cranfield as the national leads demonstrates the depth of expertise and reputation in energy research of the universities in the Energy Research Accelerator partnership.”
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, said: “The choice of Birmingham and Cranfield as the national leads of the Global Centers energy programmes is a testament to the great energy research work that they have been doing and their ability to effectively work in a partnership, which is one of the great strengths of the Energy Research Accelerator.

“The CLEETS programme at Birmingham will enable innovative and transformative green transport solutions to be tested on a large-scale in the UK. At Cranfield, the HyPT centre will enable low-cost large-scale, hydrogen production for the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries, and I very much look forward to seeing the outcome of their work.”

Global Centers on clean energy and climate change is an ambitious international clean energy and climate change programme which is led by the USA’s National Science Foundation and delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in conjunction with other international funders. For more details about the Global Centers programme, visit:


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About the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)
The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a consortium of eight leading research-intensive universities in the Midlands (Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Warwick), and the British Geological Survey, who are dedicated to addressing the global energy challenge.
ERA also runs the HyDEX programme which is working to develop the hydrogen economy in the Midlands. ERA and HyDEX foster collaborative research and innovation to accelerate the development and deployment of sustainable energy solutions.
For more information visit