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Left to right: Professor Joe Howe, Paul Vernon (both University of Chester), Rita Wadey, Professor John Loughhead (both BEIS), Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler and Garfield Southall (University of Chester).

Professor John Loughhead is the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). He previously had the same role in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and is a former Executive Director of the UK Energy Research Centre. Also attending was Rita Wadey, Deputy Director of Hydrogen Economy at BEIS. Their visit was organised to mark that it is ‘one year on’ since the publication of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

Welcomed by the University of Chester’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler, Professor Loughhead and Ms Wadey started their visit at the Energy Centre, which was opened last year by the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP.

They also visited the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s hydrogen fuel cell laboratories, where they were given an overview of how hydrogen can be used to power electric fuel cells. Hydrogen energy is being heralded as a way to decarbonise industry and support clean energy growth. When pure hydrogen is combined with oxygen and burned, it produces only heat and water – with no harmful CO2 emissions. In fuel cells, it produces no particulate emissions, which makes it better for air quality in terms of a transport fuel too. Recently a new partnership of industry leaders (Atkins Global, BOC, Cadent, Costain, Peel Environmental, Shell, and the University of Chester) launched the NW Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) to put the North West firmly on the hydrogen energy map, and showcase the research and development programmes about hydrogen which are already underway in the region.

During their visit, Professor Loughhead also found out more about Cadent’s HyNet North West project, a hydrogen energy and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) initiative, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from industry, homes and transport, and to support economic growth in the area.

Professor John Loughhead said: “During my visit to Thornton Science Park, I saw some of the cutting-edge technology being developed as part of the Government’s clean growth ambitions in its modern Industrial Strategy which will be crucial if we are to meet our ambitious climate change targets. I am excited to see the next steps as they develop.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, Professor Tim Wheeler, said:

“It was a great pleasure to host BEIS’s Chief Scientific Adviser and their Deputy Director of the Hydrogen Economy. The University is extremely proud of the work undertaken at Thornton Science Park in the areas of clean energy growth – of which the Energy Centre is our flagship.

“Thornton has already played host to several Government ministers, including two Chancellors of the Exchequer and the Northern Powerhouse Minister. To add such key Governmental representatives to that list - especially those with such a pedigree in energy research - is further proof of Thornton’s regional, and national, importance.”

Professor Joseph Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Institute, and Chair of the NHWA, added: “We need to find ways of decarbonising industry and hydrogen can be used as an energy source to deliver clean growth for businesses.

“We were proud to have the opportunity to share with Professor Loughhead and Rita Wadey the fantastic research, innovation and development of skills that is being undertaken here at Thornton and in the wider area.”

More information about Thornton Science Park can be found at: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/business-growth/locations/thornton-science-park

Companies wishing to find out more about the Energy Centre can contact:

  • Email: businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk
  • Tel: 01244 567 500
  • Twitter: @EnergyThornton 
  • Commercial Operations, University of Chester, Thornton Science Park, Pool Lane, Ince, Cheshire, CH2 4NU
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