This will be held in London on Thursday 18th October 2012. The event will also be used to exclusively launch the Institution’s new Technical Report into hydrogen.

With steep, binding EU and UK emissions reduction targets, IGEM’s members will join other gas professionals as well as representatives from the wider utilities, energy, renewables, transport, construction, infrastructure, education, intellectual property and investment sectors to address the future of hydrogen and fuel cell (HFC) technology which could be a £12 billion industry by 2050.

“Hydrogen is both a challenge and huge opportunity for the UK gas industry”, explained IGEM’s CEO and Chartered Engineer Dr Claire Curtis-Thomas. “There are calls for all-electric solutions to climate change and depleted resources. But such strategies overlook the game-changing contribution that combining electrical and hydrogen could offer, and the research and business opportunities associated with that.”

HFC can already power cars, buses, trains and even boats, providing comparable performances to conventional counterparts, and in many cases zero emissions at the tailpipe, meaning carbon neutral at the point of use. As advances in hydrogen production continue, for instance new catalysts for reactions powered by sunlight, the carbon footprint associated with hydrogen supply could shrink too.

The opportunities also extend to the conventional gas industry.

As Peter Hardy, IGEM’s Head of Technical Services said, “The UK’s existing national transmission system is too valuable, and the costs of all-new replacement infrastructure too high, for it to fall into disuse. 21 million UK homes are now heated by gas, and physical and regulatory innovations could enable hydrogen or hydrogen/methane blends to be safely piped to and used by households and businesses.”

Paul Denniff, Network Director for Scotia Gas Networks, will present on the opportunities and hurdles associated with supply of hydrogen through the UK’s gas networks, while in Germany E.ON is leading the field with construction of its first power-to-gas plant for storing excess wind-farm output in hydrogen, which will be produced onsite and injected into the German national transmission system.

“Here, the potential of hydrogen really comes into its own”, continued Peter. “There is a conundrum with wind-farms, large-scale solar photovoltaic and other intermittent renewables – their contribution is often wasted because electricity grids are not yet sufficiently flexible to accommodate peaks and troughs in output without significant wastage. But when hydrogen is produced onsite to store that output, changes to the weather do not matter.”