Energy Lancaster Seminar Series - 2017 Seminars



Green gas and liquid fuels; the remaining major challenge in decarbonisation

20th January 2017

Chris Goodall

The presenter

Chris Goodall is interested in all forms of carbon reduction right through from highly insulated fridges to nuclear power stations. He has an unrivalled ability to communicate clean technologies in simple English and clear numbers.

Author of 'The Switch' a 2016 book about the unstoppable global rise of solar power. The Guardian called it 'the definitive guide to this great benign change. In a fit of generosity, the FT said it was 'highly readable'. Publisher of a free weekly newsletter on green energy around the world. Join at

He has wide experience of consulting to large organisations and detailed knowledge of cleantech opportunities in the UK and Europe. His recent projects in electric car charging, community renewables, small vertical axis wind turbines, bio-plastics, LEDs and PV.

People power: Investigating cultures of community energy

27th January 2017

Rebecca Willis


There are over 500 community energy projects in the UK, generating their own power. Do they offer a different future for our energy system? In this talk, I will present research for the British Academy investigating community energy projects across eleven countries, focusing on cultural and social factors. Why did Belgian anti-nuclear activists become energy entrepreneurs, and what motivated South Korean churches to unite around solar power? How do institutional and political cultures affect the way that we produce and use energy at the local level? Based on these findings, I will conclude with suggestions for policy and practice in the UK.

The presenter

Rebecca Willis is an independent researcher with twenty years’ experience in environment and sustainability policy and practice, at international, national and local level. She fosters collaboration between the research community, politics, government, business and the third sector, in order to further sustainability goals. In 2009 Rebecca founded Green Alliance’s Climate Leadership Programme, an initiative to support Members of the UK Parliament. With Lancaster University, she is conducting research into political responses to climate change. She advises the Lake District National Park, where she helped to establish the UK’s first local carbon budget; and has a particular interest in local and distributed energy solutions.

Rebecca is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of RCUK’s Energy Programme and advises the iGov initiative at the University of Exeter. She is a Fellow of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). From 2011-15 she was a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council, and from 2004-11 was Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations. She is an Associate of the think tank Green Alliance and from 2001-4 was Green Alliance’s Director. Previously, Rebecca spent two years as a policy adviser at the European Parliament in Brussels, specialising in international environmental issues.

Bioenergy and Land-use change: Local to Global Challenges

3rd February 2017

Jeanette Whitaker


Bioenergy has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy security by substituting for fossil fuels, playing a key role in meeting 2050 carbon reduction targets. Benefits of bioenergy include the diversity of feedstocks and conversion technologies and its flexibility to deliver low-carbon heat, electricity and transport fuel. However, there are also environmental risks, in particular due to the significant land-use change which will be required for large-scale deployment.

Since 1997, when countries adopted the Kyoto protocol, the political importance given to sustainable carbon reductions has dramatically increased, but at the same time the consensus that increased bioenergy deployment will automatically or simplistically provide carbon reductions has been challenged, and a much more complex and contested picture has emerged. 

Bioenergy can be produced from 1st generation (1G) food crops, and second generation (2G) perennial energy crops and forestry residues. GHG savings from bioenergy are typically calculated using life-cycle assessment (LCA) which quantifies the GHG emissions from crop cultivation, conversion to fuel, transport and combustion.  Evidence from LCAs shows that GHG reductions from bioenergy are not guaranteed and depend on the choice of feedstock, how its grown and managed and the type of land that is converted (e.g. cropland, grassland or marginal land).  In particular there are large uncertainties in quantifying the impacts of land-use change and land management on nitrous oxide emissions and soil carbon stocks which could significantly influence GHG savings achieved. 

Over the last 10 years, an extensive body of field, laboratory and modelling research has addressed uncertainties in bioenergy sustainability demonstrating that optimised land-use and management practices can deliver significant direct GHG savings and reduce the wider environmental impacts of 2G bioenergy production, through mitigating nitrous oxide emissions, protecting or enhancing soil carbon stocks and improving water quality. In this seminar I will present the key advances in understanding from UK and global research in this area and highlight the remaining knowledge gaps and challenges which need addressing to ensure the mitigation potential of bioenergy crops in the long term.

The presenter

Jeanette’s research focuses on the impacts of global change and land-use change on terrestrial ecosystems; specifically carbon and nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. I also conduct applied research focused on the effects and interactions of climate change and mitigation measures (renewable energy and biochar) on biogeochemical cycling. I hold a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship for Terrestrial Bioenergy aimed at maximising the impact of CEH and NERC bioenergy research.

100% renewable electricity: how could it work and pathways to get there

17th February 2017

Christian Breyer

The presenter

Christian Breyer has started the Solar Economy professorship at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), Finland, in March 2014. His major expertise is the integrated research of technological and economic characteristics of renewable energy systems specialising in energy system modeling, 100% renewable energy scenarios and hybrid energy solutions, on a local but also global scale. Mr Breyer has been managing director of the Reiner Lemoine Institute, Berlin, focused on renewable energy research and worked previously several years for Q-Cells (now: Hanwha Q.Cells) a world market leader in the photovoltaic (PV) industry in the R&D and market development department. Mr Breyer received his PhD in the field of the economics of hybrid PV power plants.

He is member of international working groups like European Technology and Innovation Platform Photovoltaics (ETIP PV), IEA-PVPS Task 1 and 8, member of the scientific committee of the EU Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (PVSEC) and the International Renewable Energy Storage Conference (IRES), chairman for renewable energy at the Energy Watch Group, expert for the 100% renewables initiative and founding member of DESERTEC Foundation. Mr Breyer is member of the executive team of the Neo-Carbon Energy project in Finland focused on power-to-gas solutions.

He authored and co-authored about 140 scientific publications, accessible at: vision at

How hydrogen and fuel cell technology can ensure that the UK delivers the most cost effective transition to our future decarbonised energy system?

3rd March 2017

Amanda Lyne

The presenter

Amanda is the Managing Director of ULEMCo Ltd and has over 10 years’ experience in the hydrogen and fuel cell technology industry, having previously founded ACAL Energy and working through her consultancy business Burgundy Gold Ltd as a specialist in the commercialisation of clean tech businesses. Her career spanning over 20 years includes various positions at ICI Chemicals and Polymers, particularly Chlor Alkali, which produces hydrogen as a bi-product of the chlorine production process. She is a Director of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise partnership and Deputy-Chair of UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Visualizing the energy transitions of countries under binding climate constraints

7th April 2017

Dr Dénes Csala

The presenter

Dénes is a newly appointed Lecturer in Energy Storage Systems Dynamics with Energy Lancaster. His research interests include system dynamics, energy transitions, energy storage, complex systems, multi-agent systems and data science. His data analyses and visualizations balance on the fine line between work and hobby as he also leads the datactivism blog Try something new. Everyday., exploring topics in development through data analysis and visualization. He organized educational workshops on sustainability and renewable energy across developing regions in Asia and Africa. Dénes holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (2011), an MSc in Engineering Systems & Management (2013) and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering (2016), both from Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with MIT.