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Towards Net Zero – Newcastle University

Newcastle University is at the forefront of research which is driving forward carbon neutrality and a Net Zero economy.

In the race to tackle the climate crisis, its academics are researching ways to achieve ambitious – but crucial – net zero targets. Achieving net zero means reaching and maintaining a balance between the levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are produced and the levels that are removed from the atmosphere.

Newcastle University researchers are at the forefront of this quest, exploring methods of harnessing technology to drive solutions to whole energy systems: heat decarbonisation; hydrogen production and storage; carbon capture; energy storage and low-carbon transport. 

The Newcastle University Centre for Research Excellence in Energy unites academics and researchers across disciplines to tackle our shared global need for a rapid transition to clean but affordable energy. 

As hosts of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, we are bringing together energy experts from around the world to help understand future energy supply and demand. Their work seeks to develop flexible, smart energy infrastructure that can give customers greater control of their energy use and provide governments with evidence about how best to optimise energy networks. 

Working with partners, the University has established InTEGReL (Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory), a fully integrated whole energy systems development and demonstration facility. The site offers essential research and innovation opportunities, and enables collaboration between industry and academia. The aim is to break down barriers between the gas, electricity, water and transport sectors, better utilising their assets to deliver more secure, affordable, low carbon energy systems. 

Newcastle University is also part of the N8 Research Partnership on Net Zero North, which builds on the strengths of our region to accelerate the transition to net zero across the Northern Powerhouse. This work includes accelerating the adoption of existing technologies, supporting innovation, developing skills, and engaging with business.

“Our research is tackling a grand challenge, how to keep people warm and industry working in a way that is kinder to the planet,” explains Dr Sara Walker, Director of the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration.

As national economies look to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, there is a real and urgent need to build a greener economy. One of the emerging technological solutions in this area is hydrogen. Both researchers and policy makers are interested in the ways in which hydrogen could support a transition to net zero, particularly for transport applications.

In 2019, researchers at Newcastle and their research partners developed the first thermodynamically-reversible chemical reactor capable of producing hydrogen as a pure product stream, removing the need for the costly separation of the final products. This represents a transformational step forward in the chemical industry and could kick start the green energy revolution.  

In addition to accelerating decarbonisation innovation, harnessing the potential of hydrogen fuel is also driving innovation, skills and industry whilst enabling green growth and providing solutions for the UK to meet its net zero target by 2050.

Newcastle University is also at the heart of enabling collaborative research with key stakeholders in the development of electric transport, including for road, air and marine applications. As the leader of a national network of four cutting-edge Driving the Electric Revolution Centres, it is at the forefront of global efforts to develop the cars, planes and ships of the future.

Backed by Government funding, the Centres bring together the UK’s technology and manufacturing expertise in electrification research and development, alongside open access facilities with state-of-the-art equipment. With a focus on the reduction in carbon emissions from transport, the University team is working alongside regional and national partners to scale up the use of electric motors across a range of industries and transport systems around the globe.

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

We are interested in your views on the case studies so please choose to like/ dislike each case study.