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New £10m Global Centre in Clean Energy

13 November 2023

Car exhaust fumes/Mygdarth gwacáu car

Cardiff University is a partner in a new £10m Global Centre in Clean Energy between the UK and the US.

Funded in collaboration between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the US National Science Foundation, the Global Centre for Clean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions (CLEETS), will focus on reducing emissions from road transport, using three regions as case studies: the West Midlands and South Wales in the UK, and the Great Lakes megaregion of the US.

The UK project sees Cardiff receiving £2.8m and the University of Birmingham - who will lead - £3.2m in funding for the Centre. The Discovery Partners Institute, part of the University of Illinois System, will be leading the project in the US with a $5m award from the National Science Foundation.

Dr Dimitris Potoglou, Reader at the School of Geography and Planning, is the Centre’s ‘Clean and Equitable Transportation’ thrust co-lead. He will coordinate the Centre’s efforts on travel demand, zero-emission vehicle-technology adoption, user behaviour-aware optimal and equitable fleet operations, and the development of emission trajectories and future emission projections. Professor Liana Cipcigan of the School of Engineering is the thust-lead UK for ‘Transport Energy Infrastructure'.

Transportation is a vital part of everyday life, and critical for the economy and meeting the needs of communities. However, the sector is responsible for 24% of the UK’s total emissions. CLEETS will develop sustainable and equitable transportation strategies that improve travel and energy efficiency, assess the state of transport energy infrastructure, and optimize it to accelerate the transition to zero-emission clean energy and connected vehicles, as well as model their impact on climate change.

Dr Potoglou said: “The CLean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions (CLEETS) Global Centre is a scientific and technical UK-US partnership to work on clean energy solutions within the road transportation sector. The Centre is aimed at promoting international research and education programmes to contribute towards affordable, and equitable road transportation system and greater energy security.

“In collaboration with our US and UK partners, we seek to answer the following questions:

  1. What interventions can affect the wider adoption of clean energy transportation technology (clean energy, autonomous, active, etc.), and what will be the drivers for deployment and appropriate allocation (siting) of public charging infrastructure to support that adoption? Who would be ‘left behind’, and what policy levers would facilitate ‘accessibility and mobility for all’?
  2. How can current transportation modelling practices be enhanced to accommodate contemporary needs for evidence-based public policy and decision-making and provide robust emissions and local air quality estimates?”

Professor Omer Rana, School of Computer Science and Informatics, who leads Cardiff University’s contribution to the CLEETS, said: “It is great to be part of a centre that combines a social and technical approach to the decarbonisation of transport. Behaviour change and technology are both essential to support sustainable transport, and this centre brings these aspects together across the UK and the US, working with our University Strategic Partner, the University of Illinois. Cardiff University will also contribute key strengths in cybersecurity and data science/AI to this centre.”

Professor Rudolf Allemann, Head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff University and Pro Vice-Chancellor, International, said: "It’s great to see this joint centre on Clean Energy Technologies being launched between the University of Illinois, Cardiff University and the University of Birmingham -- to be funded by UK Research & Innovation and the National Science Foundation in the US. It builds on our collaboration with the University of Illinois System via the Discovery Partners Institute since 2018. Clean energy technologies and sustainable transport will be key challenges for all of us, not just in the UK and US, but also globally. It is useful to see that one aspect of this Centre is understanding how lessons learned from the Great Lakes Mega-Region in the US, a major logistics hub, and South Wales and West Midlands in the UK, can also be mapped to other parts of the world, such as India."

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Reader in Energy Systems and Policy at the University of Birmingham, who will lead the centre in the UK said: “Designing a decarbonised transport system that meets the needs of the economy and communities, whilst being equitable and resilient, needs an approach that integrates research from across disciplines, with the private sector and policy making. Decarbonising transport will be intricately coupled to the energy system, so we need a joined-up approach. This Global Centre gives us the opportunity to develop solutions in the UK and US at a scale that can transform our cities and regions.”

Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO UKRI, said: “UKRI’s Building a Green Future Programme aims to harness the power of research and innovation to tackle hard-to-decarbonise sectors in our economy. We are excited to be partnering with our sister organisations in the US, Canada and Australia to accelerate progress toward this crucial goal.

“Our combined investment in Global Centers enables exciting researcher and innovation-led international and interdisciplinary collaboration to drive the energy transition. I look forward to seeing the creative solutions developed through these global collaborations.”

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