Thornton Professor leads the North West on hydrogen matters.

With the North West aiming to deliver the UK’s first hydrogen economy, a University of Chester professor is leading the way in the region’s ambition to make that vision a reality.

Among his many regional and national roles focussing on clean energy, Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Institute at the University of Chester, is Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance. NWHA is a new industrial partnership backing the region’s primary hydrogen economy bid.

Joe will be one of the keynote speakers and co-chair of ‘Delivering the Hydrogen Economy North West’, a region-wide event which will bring together key stakeholders to discuss how the region can deliver pioneering hydrogen projects that set the standard for the UK. It will also showcase the extensive range of hydrogen projects that are already happening in the North West. The aim is to develop hydrogen regionally as a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

‘Delivering the Hydrogen Economy NW’ will feature talks and presentations from Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, as well as some of the region’s key players in the energy industry, including INOVYN, BOC Gases, Peel Environmental and Costain. Delegates will hear how the region has committed £500m to meet the challenge of becoming the UK’s first zero carbon cluster by 2040.

The event takes place at the Heath Business and Technical Park, Runcorn, on Wednesday June 5. The programme and list of speakers can be found at:

Professor Howe has also recently been announced as a member of an advisory board for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS). The advisory board has been established to provide expertise and guidance for the APPG’s enquiry, which will examine the benefits and value of CCUS and what is required to commercialise the technology in the UK. It also includes representatives from heavy industry, academia, think tanks and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Professor Joe Howe said: “When pure hydrogen is combined with oxygen and burned, it produces only heat and water – with no harmful CO2 emissions. Here at the University of Chester, we believe that Thornton Science Park is a, if not the, pivotal feature for the further development of the hydrogen economy in the North West. To use an energy metaphor, we see our Energy Centre as our beacon at Thornton, which is a Campus all about skills, innovation and clean growth. Hydrogen is exactly that: an energy source to deliver clean growth for businesses and people (through car fuel, for example). I am extremely excited that the University of Chester is at the heart of such an exciting future prospect.”

Professor Howe has undertaken extensive energy related research, development and innovation funded by Government, Industry and RCUK (Research Councils UK) and the EU and has published in excess of 100 peer reviewed articles. Specifically on energy systems, he has led and been involved in the development of industry/ university partnerships including BAE Systems and the National Nuclear Laboratory, where he is an academic associate.

During the last six years, he has been successful in securing six energy related EPSRC Industrial Collaborative PhD funded students and has been either PI (Principal Investigator) or CI (Co-investigator) on several energy specific ERDF programmes supporting SMEs in the North West of England. He has recently completed two Innovate UK projects concerned with Carbon Capture and Storage and Nuclear Decommissioning respectively and is currently leading on two industrial sponsored energy research projects funded by URENCO and Costain. Among his research projects, Professor Howe is supporting award winning PhD student Reace Edwards, who is exploring how hydrogen can be used to decarbonise gas in the region. Funded by Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company, Reace’s work is part of a collaboration research project on decarbonising gas that has been signed between Costain and the University of Chester.

Externally, Joe holds a number of roles including:

• Academic Associate of the National Nuclear Laboratory;

• Visiting Professor at Harbin Institute of Technology, China;

• Board member of the Cheshire Energy Hub;

• Steering Committee member of the Decarbonised Gas Alliance;

• Member of the NW Regional Manufacturers Association;

• Chair of the NW Hydrogen Hub;

• Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance;

• Non-Executive Board member of The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board;

• Academic Lead on National Grid (Gas) Stakeholder Group;

• Member of the Rocksavage International Redevelopment Group.