The ERA Vision

The Midlands Energy Conference took place on 26th November. The event brought together over 300 academics, business people and representatives from government, to discuss the latest developments in energy research and innovation. 

The morning consisted of the following keynote speakers:

  • Steve Holliday, Incoming President of the Energy Institute and former CEO of the National Grid, who spoke on the subject of 'Energy challenges and opportunities'
  • Rob Saunders, Innovate UK, Director of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
  • Robert Llewellyn, host of the 'Fully Charged' electric vehicle YouTube channel

The first panel session of the day was on the subject of: The smart cities approach to community energy. This consisted of Emma Bridge, CEO, Community Energy England; Prof Mark Gillott, Uni of Nottingham; Nick Ebbs, MD of Blueprint and Charles Bradshaw-Smith, CEO of SmartKlub. The group discussed the benefits of community energy in providing heap, sustainable energy to local communities, and the ERA funded Trent Basin case study was highlighted as an example of what can be achieved.

The second session brought together ERA partners from the West Midlands, whose sessino focused on: Energy Capital: How market opportunities, smart energy and public ambition come together The session comprised Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute; David Horsfall, Managing Director of Tyseley Energy Park; Concillor Lisa Trickett, Birmingham City Council and Tim Miller, Deputy Director of EBRi at Aston University. Their presentations focused on the work being undertaken in the West Midlands to build a sustainable conurbation, and the role of the universities in creating an energy innovation zone at the Tyseley Energy Park.

In the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity to see presentations from some of the ERA PhD students. Five doctoral researchers from ERA partner universities made presentations on subjects including microbial cell factories, high power energy storage, nuclear waste disposal, bio-char and the benefits of palladium. The students delivered their presentations in a Pecha-Kucha style - 20 slides, each 20 seconds long.

ERA speakers - click here for speaker biographies

'More than Minutes'
The discussions at conference were recorded using artists from More than Minutes, who drew their illustrations on a giant sheet of paper at the back of the conference centre.
For a large scale photograph of this, click here.

ERA conference  - More than Minutes small

The afternoon seminar sessions ran on the themes of Academic and Industrial Partnerships and New Energy Technologies. 

  • Academic and Industrial Partnerships included Professor Colin Snape from Uni of Nottingham and CPL on the subject of converting waste to energy; Professor Emma Kendrick of Birmingham University on the subject of battery innovation and Dr Ceri Vincent of the british Geological Survey on the subject of carbon capture and storage solutions.
  • New Energy Technologies included Dr Hannah Edmonds of the MTC on the subject of 'Factory in a Box'; Professor Phil Eames of Loughborough on renewable energy systems and Professor Karl Ryder from the University of Leicester on materials for energy.

A specially designed long-format seminar also took place for CleanTech entrepreneurs which was delivered by Guy Pattison, founder of Clean + Cool and the business journalist, Jon Card.

The subject of Energy storage alternatives - beyond batteries was the theme for the last of the ERA panels. This consisted of Professor Seamus Garvey of the University of Nottingham who spoke on the subject of Wind Driven Thermal Pumping. This was followed by Professor Mike Stephenson of the British Geological Survey who discussed the UK-GEOS programme and then Professors Gavin Walker of Nottingham and Robert Steinberger-Wilckens from Birmingham who explored the use of hydrogen as an energy storage medium.

The day concluded with a keynote speech from Robert Llewellyn of the Fully Charged Show. Robert talked about the technological advances in electric vehicles over the last decade. How the  reliability of batteries and range of the vehicles has increased significantly and how the price of EVs is reducing rapidly and is forecast to become even lower than combustion engine vehicles in the near future. Robert then chaired a panel of experts who answered questions from the audience around electric vehicles.

ERA's Chief Operating Officer, Dr Emma Kelly, rounded off the conference by summarising the key discussion points of the day and thanking the delegates for their involvement in the event and their input in the question and answer sessions.

Slidedeck: The main-stage slidedeck for ERA Vision 18 is available for download here.

A short video about the day can be viewed here

Further details of the day's discussions can be found in the following articles which were written by 'Compelo' on the day:

What we learned at ERA Vision

Future energy challenges and opportunities – Steve Holliday

The future of transport – Robert Llewellyn

Energy Storage alternatives

December 2018

Posted on Saturday 22nd December 2018