Professor Nigel Brandon began the conference by reminding us of the benefits of using hydrogen fuel cells: their efficiency, the fact that they don't produce particulates and the flexibility given by the variety of hydrogen production methods. He concluded that research into cleaner hydrogen production will be necessary to ensure that a future containing hydrogen fuel cells will be sustainable.
Monday evening hosted a lively panel discussion between some really very inspiring early career researchers. Dr. Greg Offer, Dr. Valeska Ting (@DrValeskaTing), Dr. Dennis Krammer and Dr. Paul Shearing were each given the stage for 10 minutes to talk about their route into academia and any tips they had for us sitting in the audience who might want to do the same. The passion and drive that these four exhibited during the short session made it clear that their lectureships were well earned! We were encouraged to aim high, to take networking seriously and (obviously!) to publish as much as possible. The range of pathways exhibited amongst the panel showed that failure does happen, and that a "Plan B" can come in very handy...
Huge thanks to all the members of the panel - it was a really useful session!
Tuesday began with Dr. Mark Selby from Ceres Power. He encouraged the development of links between academia and industry through better listening, reminding us that companies do not want to make problems with their industry public, even if they do have a whole team of researchers working to solve them. Following on from the career session the previous evening, he advised us to be clear about what we do and don't know and to seize opportunities that fit our values.
The second industrial keynote of Tuesday was Jane Patterson from Ricardo (@Ricardo_AEA), who gave an excellent presentation on the importance of applied research.
After a great conference dinner at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground, the hall was looking emptier for the final day. However, it was well worth staying until the end for Dr. Kerry-Ann Adamson's (@KerryAnnEnergy, Navigant Research) "Wake Up Call" for the clean tech industry. As well as tips on which countries to target for future research opportunities, we were warned to beware of the word "optimal" and of presenting technologies and not solutions. Finishing on the very positive note that this is likely to be the most exciting time to be working in energy research, Kerry-Ann woke us all up and left us with something to think about.
Overall, it was a really interesting and varied conference with some great sessions: thanks to all the organisers and presenters!!