Northern Energy Transitions Conference 2021


The Institute is pleased to announce this joint conference with the Durham Energy Institute held over two-days on Thursday and Friday 15-16 April 2021. The conference will focus on how can the North can undergo an energy-transition by itself, and how net-zero technologies may create jobs in the North. This event is aimed at showing members of the public, policy makers and an academic audience what is on offer, what can be done and what is being done across our region.

Registration is required to enable zoom access, with a separate sign-up for both days – registration links below. The full programme is given below and is available to download.

Registration for Day 1: Thursday 15th April 2021

Registration for Day 2: Friday 16th April 2021

Full Two-Day Downloadable Programme

NEIMMEAims for the Institute

The Newcastle Institute is the Royal Chartered membership organisation for science and technology in the North. This conference forms part of our remit to provide contemporary science to a public audience, as well as supporting academia and industry in the North. We also aim to produce a publication on climate change policy in the North as part of the conference. To find out more about our work and to support us though membership please see:

DEIAims for Durham Energy Institute

The Durham Energy Institute is the hub of energy research at Durham University. DEI unlocks research synergies between different disciplines and sectors to tackle the energy demands of the future, produce world class research for understanding energy decarbonisation issues across science and society, and deliver integrated solutions for the climate emergency. The aim of DEI’s annual symposiums is to raise the DEI profile and provide a platform for Durham University academics to showcase their research.

Speakers Topics

We start the conference off with an overview of what it was that allowed the Industrial Revolution to begin in the North East, evidence for current climate change and what the future might hold for the Anthropocene in the geological record.

The rest of the speakers on the first day are an attempt to join up the natural and physical sciences research being conducted in this areas, as well as bring in some local industry input, including how we secure critical metals and the practical regulatory aspects involved in groundwater heat.

The aim of many of these talks is to provide a view that these technologies are achievable in practice, and that there is economic benefit and jobs to be found in the North taking on these technologies rather viewing them as the result of climate policies made in London that make the regions poorer.

The second day will offer some governmental input into the conference as well as giving representatives from the Northern Councils to discuss what their climate change plans are.

Day One Programme:
Registration for Day 1: Thursday 15th April 2021
Day Two Programme:
Registration for Day 2: Friday 16th April 2021
09.30 – 09.45 Welcome
Professor Jon Gluyas, Executive Director of DEI
Dr Andrew Dobrzanski, NEIMME
10:00–10:15 Welcome
Professor Jon Gluyas, Executive Director of DEI
Dr Andrew Dobrzanski, NEIMME
9:45–11:15 Panel 1: Geological Record of Climate and Extinctions (NEIMME)
Chair: Professor David Harper, Department of Earth Sciences
• Dr Chris Cleal (National Museums Wales), Formation of the British/North East Coal Measures
• Liz Thomas (British Antarctic Survey), Recent Climate Change
• Professor Mark Williams (University of Leicester), The legacy of the Anthropocene
• Professor Tim Burt (Dept of Geography Emeritus, Durham University), Durham Temperature Record

The Great Northern Coalfield gave birth to the Industrial Revolution and set in motion an uptick in carbon emissions from fossil fuel which have paved the way for our modern world. To open our conference this session will explore how those coal fields formed, what effect the increase in carbon emissions may be having on the global climate and what the legacy of our ‘Anthropocene’ period might be for the Earth.

10:15-11:45 Panel 5: Local Government (NEIMME)
Chair: Dr Joanna Berry, Durham University Business School & DEI Co-Director
• Cllr John D Clare (Durham County Council), Durham Climate Change Plan
• Matt Baker (Northumberland Council), Northumberland Climate Change Action Plan
• Clare Penny Evans (Newcastle Council), Newcastle Council Pathway to Net-0
• Richard Baker (NELEP), Working collaboratively at North East scale

Northern Councils will play an important role of implementing low-carbon technologies at a local level. Our first session showcases how a selection of Councils have gone about developing their climate change plans across the different geographies of the North.

11:15–11:45 Screen Break
11:45-13:15 Panel 2: Geology for the Energy Transition (NEIMME)
Chair: Laura Brown, Centre Manager, Centre for Energy Systems Integration, Newcastle University
• Professor Jon Gluyas (Department of Earth sciences, Durham University & DEI Executive Director), Topic TBC
• Dr Charlotte Adams (Coal Authority & DEI Associate Fellow), Minewater Heating in the North East of England
• Steve McDonald (Durham County Council), Louisa Centre Mine Water Heat Project
• Dr Andrew Bloodworth (British Geological Survey), Critical Metals

Much attention on ‘green’ technologies has focused on developments in materials science, but the problems and opportunities surrounding geological resources are just as important to consider. This session will explore how our local geological resources may provide low-carbon solutions and how we still depend on global supplies of metals for our ‘clean’ technologies.

11:45–12:45 3MT Competition (DEI)
Chair: Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice Chancellor & Warden, Durham University
• Dr Adrian Green (Department of History, Durham University & DEI Fellow)
• Dr Sarah Knuth (Department of Geography, Durham University & DEI Fellow)
• Dr Janie Ling-Chin (Department of Engineering, Durham University & DEI Fellow)
• Professor Chris Greenwell (Department of Earth Sciences and NEIMME)PhD students from Durham and other Universities will be challenged to present a compelling talk on their thesis or energy related research in just three minutes, and with the use of only one background slide.
13:15–14:00 Lunch Break 12.45 – 14.00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 15:30 Panel 3: Materials for the Northern Energy Transition (NEIMME)
Chair: Dr Douglas Halliday, Department of Physics, Durham University & DEI Co-Director
• Dr Budhika Mendis (Department of Physics, Durham University & DEI Fellow), Solar Power Materials
• Neil Spann (Power Roll), Unlocking unmet demand in the Solar PV Market – Power Roll a unique solution
• Dr Paul McGonigal (Department of Chemistry, Durham University), Battery Materials
• Jeet Singh (CPI), Opportunities in battery materials to accelerate electrification of transport

The North has long been known for its role coal mining, but many new and exciting low-carbon technologies are being developed and manufactured by researchers and industrial companies across our region. This session focuses on the contributions of Northern academia and industry to new solar and battery materials and the opportunities and challenges faced by industry to successful roll-out of new technologies.

14:00–14:15 Keynote Speech (DEI)
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP,
Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14:15–15:45 Panel 6: Clean Energy & Manufacturing Solutions (NEIMME)

Chair: Mr Peter Allen, Durham University Business School
• Dr Richard Curry (SUSTAIN Steel), Low-C steelmaking
• Paul McKeever (Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult) Topic TBC
• Professor Kevin Anderson (DecarboN8/Manchester University) Decarbonising Northern Transport
• Professor Tony Roskilly (Engineering Department, Durham University & DEI Co Director) Industrial Decarbonisation
• Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State for BEIS

The North has had a long history of technological innovation but faces different challenges compared to other parts of the UK. This final session looks at how the North could produce greener steel, how our region is a leader in offshore renewables, and the unique challenges the North faces in adopting greener transport technologies.

15:30–16:00 Screen Break 15:45–16:15 Screen Break
16:00–17:30 Panel 4:What do we want from COP26 and how do we get it? (DEI)
Chair: Helen Stockton, National Energy Action & DEI Advisory Board
• Professor Simone Abram (Anthropology Department Durham University & DEI Co-Director)
• Professor Gavin Bridge (Department of Geography & DEI Fellow)
• Alyssa Gilbert (COP 26 Universities Network)
• Henry Carr (President, Student Energy Durham & Ex-Officio Member of DEI Advisory Board)

The UK will host COP26 in 2021. As the crucial arena for global action to cut carbon emissions, the UK as host has a privileged position to influence debate. What should be highlighted, and how can we ensure that debates are informed by research?

17:30-17:45 Conclusions and Round-Up
Brian Matthews, Energy Consultant and DEI Advisory Board

16:15–16:25 3MT Competition AwardsThe awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the 3MT competition will be presented by Dr Barbara Vest OBE, Independent Special Advisor and member of DEI Advisory Board

16:25–16:40 Conclusions and Round-Up
Dr Barbara Vest OBE, Special Advisor to Energy UK & member of DEI Advisory Board

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