01 Dec 2023

East Midlands can ‘lead the way’ in energy transition, Midlands Energy Summit hears

The East Midlands has the potential to “lead the way” in the energy transition to net zero by holding some of the key ingredients – but businesses need more support to make changes right now.

These were two of the headline messages at the Midlands Energy Summit, held by East Midlands Chamber at the University of Nottingham’s Trent Building yesterday (Thursday 30 November).

Speakers from major organisations including Toyota, Uniper, National Grid and the East Midlands Freeport gave an insight into some of the clean energy activities happening in the region, including in hydrogen, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.

A new East Midlands zero carbon innovation centre, which aims to transform cutting-edge green research at the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University into commercial products, was announced by the Freeport’s chief executive Tom Newman-Taylor at the event – with the Freeport contributing £5m over funding towards the initiative.

East Midlands Chamber director of policy and insight Chris Hobson said: “With three of the big bases for future energy provision – hydrogen, nuclear fusion and nuclear fission – being developed here in the East Midlands, across a range of nationally-critical projects and research that is backed by public and private sector investment, we are leading the way in the energy transition.

“It was fascinating to hear more about some of these plans from the major players in these areas, and the new East Midlands zero carbon innovation centre is an exciting initiative that taps into these strengths while developing new sectors that will deliver further investment and high-quality jobs for our communities.

“But while the future holds plenty of promise, we mustn’t forget about what we can do here and now to make gains in the green agenda. Toyota is a great example of a company making small adjustments to save lots of energy and while some of these learnings can be passed down through the supply chain, there is plenty more we can do.

“Small businesses tell us they want to make the necessary changes to decarbonise their operations, and many are already taking huge strides forward, but require more support.

“Our Sustainable East Midlands initiative can signpost businesses to funded programmes, events and best practice. More broadly, it’s crucial for businesses, the public sector and universities to work closer together to develop research and roll out new technologies that will help the East Midlands and UK to become a world leader in the net zero economy.”

Midlands Energy Summit 2023 highlights

Andy Nolan, of the University of Nottingham, speaks at the Midlands Energy Summit 2023

Speakers at the Midlands Energy Summit, held in partnership with the University of Nottingham and East Midlands Freeport, included:

  • Andy Nolan, development and sustainability director at University of Nottingham, explained how the institution aims to reduce a £30m annual energy bill across its estate via a series of energy-saving measures
  • Paul Gleaves, head of power purchase agreements at Consultus International Group, provided a long-term energy market analysis and provided tips on how businesses can de-risk their energy management strategy
  • Tom Newman-Taylor, chief executive of East Midlands Freeport, spoke about the “huge opportunity” net zero provides to the East Midlands and the importance of creating a region-wide voice for inward investors
  • Dr David Parfitt, senior data analyst at National Grid ESO, delivered some future energy scenarios for the East Midlands, including one in which the region can “lead the way” towards net zero
  • Faye McAnulla, programme director of the Energy Research Accelerator, gave an update on cutting-edge green projects being delivered by universities across the Midlands
  • John Malpas, senior manager for the environment and carbon neutrality project at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, offered an insight into how the Derbyshire-based car manufacturer has made significant reductions in energy use within the paint shop by making small tweaks.

The Chamber will discuss the electrification of industry at the Manufacturing and Trade Conference, in Loughborough, on 26 March. More information will follow but to keep up to date with the Chamber’s upcoming policy events, visit www.emc-dnl.co.uk/services/engaging-decision-makers