Hydrogen and hydrogen-based, low-carbon liquid fuels (such as ammonia) are essential for the UK to reach net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. There is growing consensus of its role in the deep decarbonisation of all sectors of the UK economy, and is exemplified by the publication of the UK hydrogen strategy.
We are looking to fund two hydrogen research coordinators, one in each of the two following areas:
- Coordinator for research challenges in hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels
- Coordinator for systems integration of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels.
Alternative liquid fuels are defined as fuels that are specifically used as hydrogen carriers such as ammonia.
For the purpose of this funding opportunity, the two areas highlighted can be defined as below.
Research challenges in hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels
The coordinator for this area should look to create a consortium and research plan which will tackle research challenges that underpin the hydrogen production, storage and distribution parts of the hydrogen value chain. They may also seek to address issues that will impact upon the hydrogen end-use sectors. These may include, but are not limited to, challenges associated with:
- lowering costs of hydrogen technologies
- increasing efficiencies of technological systems
- materials science and engineering
- hydrogen safety.
Systems integration of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels
Integration can be taken to mean integration within whole energy systems that can include:
- international settings
- whole systems integration across technologies
- technology coupling requirements
- trade-off analysis across technology options
- whole systems.
The coordinator should take a view across all aspects of hydrogen integration, these may include, but are not limited to challenges associated with:
- trade-offs associated with hydrogen integration
- integration across sectors and across the whole energy system
- technological requirements
- emissions throughout the hydrogen value chain.
The hydrogen research coordinators opportunity is the first of a potential two-stage process designed to fund two multidisciplinary research programmes, which currently do not exist at the scale required to accelerate the development of hydrogen and alternative fuels and their whole systems integration in the UK.
The second stage is subject to EPSRC securing future funding and the identified programme requirements.
This opportunity, the first stage, will provide up to £350,000 of funding for each hydrogen research coordinator for six months with a fixed start date of 1 April 2022.
This stage is aimed at identifying two coordinators who will use the funding awarded to network within their research community to act as thought leaders, ambassadors and consensus builders. They will develop the forward research agenda and build a multidisciplinary consortium for these potential research centres.
The consortiums will take account of the opportunities, risks and latest policy considerations in respect of the UK’s long-term position in hydrogen.
Only the successful hydrogen research coordinators will be invited to submit to the potential second stage as principal investigators for either the Centre for Research Challenges in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels or the Centre for Systems Integration of Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels.
In any future activity, it is expected that the coordinators will have a key role in leading and driving the transfer of knowledge between academia, industry and policymakers. EPSRC will work with the appointed coordinators to manage this process and any future funding activity, subject to future funding, to follow this opportunity.
Role of the coordinator
The coordinator role will be to:
- explore and establish not only the technical, technological and scientific advances, but also the social, behavioural, ethical, environmental, economic, legal and regulatory understanding required to support successful transition to hydrogen
- partner with academic, industry and government organisations to define and achieve a shared vision of the agenda in this space
- coordinate networking activity to ensure excellence is engaged from across disciplines
- engage with academics, industry, policymakers and other stakeholders to develop a multidisciplinary consortium
- engage with the projects supported through the research project call to maximise impact from both calls
- provide leadership and coordination across the wider landscape
- identify and understand the research challenges of the relevant area and to develop the agenda for the potential future activity in this space considering the wider international landscape
- provide advice and recommendations to EPSRC.
The role is not solely about research facilitation and driving coordination, but is also outward facing in terms of engagement with stakeholders and understanding the political as well as research landscape. This could be through running a number of workshops and activities to coordinate to bring these communities together in an immersive way.
This award will also provide funds to build a multidisciplinary consortium and subsequently maintain the momentum once the centre proposals have been submitted.
The award can be used to fund:
- principal investigator time
- co-investigator time for up to two co-investigators
- networking activities
- general administrative support during this period.
Only the successful hydrogen research coordinators will be invited to submit to the potential second stage as principal investigators, with significant input and support from the wider community, for either the Centre for Research Challenges in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels or the Centre for Systems Integration of Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels as outlined below.
This opportunity is subject to securing additional future funding.
Information on the potential research centres
Centre of Excellence in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels, led by the coordinator for research challenges in hydrogen and alternative vectors
This centre will discover and develop cross-cutting solutions to the cross-sector challenges relating to hydrogen and hydrogen-based low carbon liquid fuels. Examples include, but are not limited to challenges such as:
- green hydrogen production
- production of low carbon liquid forms of hydrogen
- hydrogen storage
- public perception and engagement.
It will operate as a hub for UK hydrogen research, collaborating with, informing and being informed by research conducted in sector-focused research delivered through other parts of our programmes including industry, transport, heating, agriculture and the built environment. Specific research challenges that the centre is expected to address include:
- how do we significantly lower the cost of producing low carbon hydrogen at a range of scales
- how do we best use hydrogen to decarbonise both the domestic and industrial sectors
- where does hydrogen have the most impact in the UK economy, and how do we realise that benefit
- how do we best use hydrogen to decarbonise the transport sector
- what is the potential for green ammonia to help decarbonise agriculture
- how do we best use hydrogen to support decarbonisation of the power sector
- how do we best support the implementation of hydrogen in the energy system?
Centre for Integration of Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels, led by the coordinator for systems integration of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels
This centre will take a view across all aspects of hydrogen across technologies, sectors and the whole energy system to understand how best to integrate hydrogen in the whole energy system, necessary trade-offs and technology coupling requirements to allow the full potential of hydrogen, as part of a decarbonised energy system, to be realised.
It will also allow assessment of hydrogen as a technology option from fuels for hydrogen production and the impacts of hydrogen on our world.
Specific research challenges that will be addressed by the centre include:
- what are the trade-offs for end-use of hydrogen
- what are the trade-offs between energy vectors
- how can we integrate hydrogen use across sectors and across the whole energy system
- what are the technology coupling requirements for hydrogen in a decarbonised future and how do we achieve them
- what are the emissions associated with all parts of the hydrogen value chain?
The coordinators should also engage with the interdisciplinary community, across arts and humanities, biological, engineering, environmental, physical and social sciences, to identify key challenges, barriers and opportunities for coordinated activity.
The two coordinators are expected to work together, in partnership, to enable alignment and complementarity of the respective centre activities, ensuring facilitation of knowledge exchange to secure maximum impact from both centres.
The centres are expected to align and work together. The centres may share some aspects and membership of governance and management which reflects the anticipated cross-centre working and associated researchers.
Alongside this call, EPSRC has launched an opportunity for research proposals as part of the ‘production and integration of zero emission hydrogen’ opportunity. These will create a platform of research on which the coordinators will be able to build.
The coordinators are required to engage the recipients of the ‘production and integration of zero emission hydrogen research’ opportunity to inform the development of the potential centres.
Please note, however, that no commitment has been made to provide follow-on funding for projects funded as part of the hydrogen research opportunity through the hydrogen research coordinator centre development. This is subject to the identified programme requirements and securing future funding.
The potential centres will work in partnership, tackling cross-sectoral issues and providing postgraduate training to deliver the next generation of net zero research and innovation leaders.
The centres will act as a central focus point for collaboration with both existing and future hydrogen use sector research investments including our co-designed applied industry research programmes and other relevant programmes in the UK hydrogen research and innovation landscape.
This will ensure effective two-way engagement, and information and knowledge exchange between all related investments and centres to accelerate research and development.
The coordinators, and the potential centres, will be expected to engage with examples such as those listed below (not an exhaustive list):
- EPSRC hydrogen transport NetworkPlus
- EPSRC heating and cooling investments
- relevant supergen hubs
- Green ammonia demonstrator
- The Department for Transport Tees Valley Multi-Modal Hydrogen Transport Hub
Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC)
- projects funded through the production and integration of zero emission hydrogen research opportunity
- relevant investments across the social, economic and environmental sciences.
They are also expected to engage with any other relevant investments made by UKRI, including hydrogen innovation investments funded by Innovate UK.
They will also act as an international flagship and a focal point to demonstrate the UK’s leadership role in mitigating climate change through net zero.
A grant for up to £350,000 is available from EPSRC for a period of up to six months for each coordinator. This grant must start on 1 April 2022 and end no later than 30 September 2022.
The funding can be used for the following:
- principal investigator time
- co-investigator time for no more than two named co-investigators.
- administrative support
- project management support
- professional facilitator costs for workshops
- research associates (RAs) salary to support workshops and other activities
- travel, networking and venues.
The funding of equipment is not available through this opportunity.
We do not expect this role to be full time. It is for the applicant to assess how much time they could reasonably commit to this role balanced alongside their other responsibilities, to recognise the strategic, high-profile nature of this role and the anticipated level of commitment required to develop the consortia and centres.
Regardless of the time requested, applicants should be prepared to justify the time committed to the role.
Co-investigators are expected to bring additional and complementary skills, knowledge and experience to the principal investigator. The applicants should seek to describe how the balance of skills within the named team will bring additionality to the proposal.
Read more information on our approach to equipment funding.