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How can the North transition to a net-zero economy by itself, and how can net-zero technologies create jobs in the North. This event is aimed at showing a public/policy/academic audience what is on offer, what can be done and what is being done here in the North.

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DEI & NEIMME Conference Logo

The Transition to NET-ZERO in the North of England

Joint Conference between Durham Energy Institute and North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

Day two keynote speech by the Rt Honorable Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth) and UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency

To book a place at this conference please visit our EventBrite page.


Panel1: Geological Record of Climate and Extinctions

The Great Northern Coalfield gave birth to the Industrial Revolution and set in motion an uptick in carbon emissions from fossil fuel which have paved the way for our modern world. To open our conference this session will explore how those coal fields formed, what effect the increase in carbon emissions may be having on the global climate and what the legacy of our ‘Anthropocene’ period might be for the Earth.

Chair: Professor David Harper, Department of Earth Sciences


  • Dr Chris Cleal (National Museums Wales), Formation of the British/North East Coal Measures
  • Liz Thomas (British Antarctic Survey), Recent Climate Change
  • Professor Jan Zalasiewicz (University of Leicester), The legacy of the Anthropocene
  • Professor Tim Burt (Dept of Geography Emeritus, Durham University), Durham Temperature Record

Panel 2:  Geology for the Energy Transition

Much attention on ‘green’ technologies has focused on developments in materials science, but the problems and opportunities surrounding geological resources are just as important to consider. This session will explore how our local geological resources may provide low-carbon solutions and how we still depend on global supplies of metals for our ‘clean’ technologies.

Chair: Laura Brown, Centre Manager, Centre for Energy Systems Integration, Newcastle University


  • Professor Jon Gluyas (Department of Earth sciences, Durham University & DEI Executive Director), Topic TBC
  • Dr Charlotte Adams (Coal Authority & DEI Associate Fellow), Minewater Heating in the North East of England
  • Steve McDonald (Durham County Council), Louisa Centre Mine Water Heat Project
  • Dr Andrew Bloodworth (British Geological Survey), Critical Metals

Panel 3:  Materials for the Northern Energy Transition

The North has long been known for its role coal mining, but many new and exciting low-carbon technologies are being developed and manufactured by researchers and industrial companies across our region. This session focuses on the contributions of Northern academia and industry to new solar and battery materials and the opportunities and challenges faced by industry to successful roll-out of new technologies.

Chair: Dr Douglas Halliday, Department of Physics, Durham University & DEI Co-Director


  • Dr Budhika Mendis (Department of Physics, Durham University & DEI Fellow), Solar Power Materials
  • Neil Spann (Power Roll), Unlocking unmet demand in the Solar PV Market – Power Roll a unique solution
  • Dr Paul McGonigal (Department of Chemistry, Durham University), Battery Materials
  • Jeet Singh (CPI), Opportunities in battery materials to accelerate electrification of transport

Panel 4:  What do we want from COP26 and how do we get it?

The UK will host COP26 in 2021. As the crucial arena for global action to cut carbon emissions, the UK as host has a privileged position to influence debate. What should be highlighted, and how can we ensure that debates are informed by research?

Chair: Helen Stockton, National Energy Action & DEI Advisory Board


  • Professor Simone Abram (Anthropology Department Durham University & DEI Co-Director)
  • Professor Gavin Bridge (Department of Geography & DEI Fellow)
  • Alyssa Gilbert (COP 26 Universities Network)
  • Henry Carr (President, Student Energy Durham & Ex-Officio Member of DEI Advisory Board)

Panel 5:  Local Government

Northern Councils will play an important role of implementing low-carbon technologies at a local level. Our first session showcases how a selection of Councils have gone about developing their climate change plans across the different geographies of the North.

Chair: Dr Joanna Berry, Durham University Business School & DEI Co-Director


  • Cllr John D Clare (Durham County Council), Durham Climate Change Plan
  • Matt Baker (Northumberland Council), Northumberland Climate Change Action Plan
  • Clare Penny Evans (Newcastle Council), Newcastle Council Pathway to Net-0
  • Richard Baker (NELEP), Working collaboratively at North East scale

Panel 6:  Clean Energy & Manufacturing Solutions

The North has had a long history of technological innovation but faces different challenges compared to other parts of the UK. This final session looks at how the North could produce greener steel, how our region is a leader in offshore renewables, and the unique challenges the North faces in adopting greener transport technologies.

Chair: Mr Peter Allen, Durham University Business School


  • Dr Richard Curry (SUSTAIN Steel), Low-C steelmaking
  • Paul McKeever (Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult) Topic TBC
  • Professor Kevin Anderson (DecarboN8/Manchester University) Decarbonising Northern Transport
  • Professor Tony Roskilly (Engineering Department, Durham University & DEI Co Director) Industrial Decarbonisation
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth

3MT Competition

PhD students from Durham and other Universities will be challenged to present a compelling talk on their thesis or energy related research in just three minutes, and with the use of only one background slide. 

Chair:  Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice Chancellor & Warden, Durham University


  • Dr Adrian Green, Department of History, Durham University & DEI Fellow
  • Dr Sarah Knuth, Department of Geography, Durham University & DEI Fellow
  • Dr Janie Ling-Chin, Department of Engineering, Durham University & DEI Fellow
  • Professor Chris Greenwell (Department of Earth Sciences and NEIMME)

You can download the conference programme at DEI & NEIMME Conference Programme.