UofG playing key role in £10m hydrogen economy research hub

Published: 18 July 2023

Researchers from the University of Glasgow are playing a key role in a £10m project to push forward the UK’s hydrogen economy.

Professor David Flynn, of the James Watt School of Engineering, is leading Glasgow’s contribution to the Hydrogen Integration for Accelerated Energy Transitions research hub, or HI-ACT.
HI-ACT brings together multidisciplinary teams to tackle the systems integration challenges to the wider use of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels in the UK.
The project will focus on the role of these fuels in the net zero transition in providing connectivity and flexibility across the energy system.
The hub is funded by the Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UKRI, which is providing £10m over the next 5 years.
Professor Sara Walker, of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering will lead the hub, which includes partners at the universities of Cardiff, Northumbria, Birmingham, Exeter, Imperial, Manchester, Queen’s University Belfast, UCL, and Warwick in addition to the University of Glasgow.A picture of the collaborators on the HI-ACT research hub team
Professor Walker said: “I am delighted to lead this hub, along with an excellent team of colleagues across the UK. At Newcastle University, our world-leading research on energy systems integration is now to be applied to the question of the role of hydrogen in the energy transition.
"Hydrogen is a highly versatile energy vector, suitable for use in many hard-to-decarbonise sectors where other energy vectors, such as electricity, are not suitable. Our focus in this research hub is to identify those sectors best suited to hydrogen, to maximise the value it can bring to the net zero journey.
"The climate emergency gives us an urgent imperative to answer this question and support Government, industry and the public sector in our collective transition to net zero.”
David Flynn, Professor in Cyber-Physical Systems at the University of Glasgow, added: “I’m pleased and proud that the work we did in the initial phase of the Hi-ACT project has led EPSRC to fully fund our next five years of research and collaboration.
“Hydrogen has tremendous potential to help the UK achieve net-zero, and our consultation phase has showed there’s real support across the public and private sectors to integrate hydrogen and liquid fuels into the country’s energy networks.
“I’m looking forward to building on our initial success and delivering high-quality results in the years to come.”
In April 2022, Professor Walker, along with Professor Flynn and Professor Jianzhong Wu from Cardiff University, were successful in securing £615k for six months to investigate and prioritise hydrogen integration challenges with stakeholders.
During the six months, the project had 93 interactions through focus groups and 1:1 meetings, 63 attendees at two workshops and to date up to 135 responses to their citizen and industrial stakeholder surveys.
This included engagement with 53 industries, 20 academic institutions, 12 governmental and regulatory bodies, nine energy research institutions/groups and four community energy agencies representative of the UK home nations.
Lastly, during this time, the consortia grew to include 27 academics from 10 universities across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as over 40 project partners.

HI-ACT will ensure hydrogen is appropriately integrated in a future equitable energy system, through holistic multi-disciplinary research which address integration challenges. HI-ACT will achieve this through a fundamental shift in critical analysis of the role of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels (HALF) in the context of the overall energy landscape.
HI-ACT will aim to address the following objectives:

  • To examine the role, and value, of hydrogen in a net-zero transition
  • To identify the contribution which hydrogen can make to energy security and resilience
  • To evaluate trade-offs in a whole energy system with hydrogen
  • To explore the place-based contributions of hydrogen to local energy systems

HI-ACT will establish a sustainable national Hub of excellence, catalysing world leading academic research, industrial innovators, regulators, communities, and government agencies into an ecosystem focused on the integration of hydrogen into the whole energy system.
The Hub will showcase the UK as a world leader in a scalable hydrogen economy, through advances in knowledge, technical capabilities, planning and standards. HI-ACT will also champion the benefits of collaboration, and lead in mentoring the next generation of energy research leaders.

First published: 18 July 2023