UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab


Hydrogen ‘critical’ for achieving net zero goals, minister says during Hydrogen Innovation event

17 November 2023

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said the UK could be at “the forefront of a new industrial revolution” during his keynote speech at the inaugural UCL Hydrogen Showcase and Network Event.

Ministers visit to APL

Lord Callanan was welcomed to UCL East by Professor Paola Lettieri, Dr Alex Rettie, and Dr James Robinson (all UCL Chemical Engineering, Electrochemical Innovation Lab EIL and Advanced Propulsion Lab), and was given a tour of UCL’s new cutting-edge hydrogen research facilities including the Advanced Propulsion Lab.

Also giving a keynote speech was Shadow Minister for Energy Security and Labour MP for Southampton Test, Dr Alan Whitehead, who highlighted the important role universities will play in answering some of the key questions posed by the growing hydrogen economy.

Hosted by UCL’s Hydrogen Innovation Network, the showcase demonstrated UCL’s capabilities as a leading hub for hydrogen activity and innovation in the UK and brought together some of the leading voices on hydrogen research within industry, academia and government.

With a focus on new technologies, production methods, measurements, storage, logistics, and applications, the event emphasised collaboration as the most effective way to realise the true potential of hydrogen along the route to net zero and a sustainable energy future.

UCL’s Hydrogen Innovation Network was set up in 2022 to address challenges around green hydrogen production and its use for both transport and stationary applications. Now in its second phase, the network has ten external partners within academia, industry and government that support research into using hydrogen to transition away from the combustion of fossil fuels in the UK.

The UCL Hydrogen Innovation Network is led by Dr Alex Rettie (UCL Chemical Engineering), who said: “Hydrogen is going to be a hugely important part of the transition to net zero and we noticed that it was very difficult to keep track of all of the rapid developments, so we started the UCL Hydrogen Innovation Network two years ago to bring industry, government and academia together to try and get a handle on this fast-moving field and identify the key challenges we should be working on.

“Getting people together from different fields speaking to each other leads to a lot of outputs in the form of grant funding and industry and academia collaboration. The future of hydrogen is big and, in combination with batteries and other forms of energy storage technology, crucial to achieving net zero.”

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said: “Low carbon hydrogen will be critical to supporting the UK’s energy security and achieving our net zero goals by 2050. With the potential to support over 12,000 jobs and up to £11 billion in private investment by 2030, we are leaving no stone unturned as we boost the UK’s hydrogen economy – including through exciting new research and innovation.”

During his speech, the Shadow Minister for Energy Security Dr Alan Whitehead outlined how a Labour government would approach hydrogen and stressed the importance of UCL and other higher education institutions in facilitating its application into the UK’s fuel network.

He said: “Hydrogen has a substantial role to play in our transition to net zero, and Labour is committed to developing the hydrogen economy and seizing the opportunities it will bring for good jobs and thriving industry.

Dr Alan Whitehead

Pro Provost at UCL East Professor Paola Lettieri (UCL Chemical Engineering) commented: “Cutting-edge work in relation to batteries, fuel cells and advanced propulsion forms a key part of our mission here at UCL East, and across all of UCL, to accelerate breakthroughs targeting the biggest challenges facing the planet. Our campus has been set up to convene and encourage even greater collaboration across disciplines, in partnership with industry, governments and local communities. We look forward to seeing the impact of the new relationships and initiatives generated today."

One of the final sections of the showcase was a panel discussion on the future of hydrogen hosted by Dr Rhodri Jervis (UCL Chemical Engineering) and featuring Director at HORIBA UK Richard Carter, co-founder of Energy Revolution Ventures Marcus Clover, and Dr Jennifer Hack of the University of Sheffield (previous Electrochemical Innovation Lab Senior Research Fellow)

Hydrogen Innovation Network - panel discussion

The full news item can be read on the UCL News Page.



  • Credit: Kirsten Holst
  • Top image: Lord Callanan touring a UCL lab, with Professor Paola Lettieri at left
  • Middle image: Dr Alan Whitehead speaking at UCL
  • Bottom image: Panel discussion on future of hydrogen

Media contact 

Tom Cramp

E: t.cramp@ucl.ac.uk