Materials for the Energy Transition

Working with the materials community to roadmap solutions for the UK's Energy Transition

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The UK has become the first major economy in the world to pass a net-zero emissions law, setting an ambitious target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. The development and adoption of more energy-efficient materials is an important enabler for the UK to achieve this goal.

In September 2019, the Henry Royce Institute submitted a ‘Big Idea’ to the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council on ‘Materials for the Energy Transition’. This coincided with the release of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) 2019 Report recommending a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Royce community has identified four key areas in the CCC Report where materials science research is critical to enabling step-changes in greenhouse gas reduction:


  1. Materials for low-carbon methods of hydrogen generation
  2. Materials in photovoltaic systems
  3. Decarbonisation of Heating and Cooling Systems
  4. Low loss electronics
Head and shoulders profile picture of Baroness Brown

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Royce Chair

The scale of the UK’s Energy Transition to net-zero by 2050 is challenging. However, developments in materials and their processes are key to unlocking this transition and enabling it to occur at speed. The Materials for the Energy Transition Roadmaps will provide coherent pathways for exciting and novel research to support the government’s ambitious target.


Executive Summary

The UK materials community, coordinated by Royce in collaboration with the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Institute for Manufacturing (Cambridge), has come together to develop roadmaps on these four key areas, to outline opportunities for materials science to contribute to net-zero emissions targets by 2050.

Between March and June 2020 members of the materials research community have explored the various materials challenges, targets, and timescales required to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 in these areas.

The Executive Summary highlighting the key findings of the four roadmaps is available here. Full technical reports with detailed findings for the four roadmap topics will be published in autumn 2020.

Roadmap Webinar

On 15 June 2020, Royce and IOP held a road map webinar to update the materials community, policymakers and funders on the ongoing roadmapping activity.

The webinar was opened by Baroness Brown of Cambridge who explored the importance of the roadmapping in light of the 2019 CCC report. Attendees then heard from four world-leading materials scientists who discussed the roadmapping in the context of the broader energy research field. The technical leads for each of the four roadmap areas then presented overviews of the key findings.

Click here to view the webinar agenda. A full recording of the webinar is available as well as the individual sessions.


Webinar Recordings

Prof Clare Gray (Cambridge)
Prof Jenny Nelson (Imperial College London)
Prof Nora de Leeuw (University of Leeds)
Prof Stuart Parkin (Max Planck, Halle)


Roadmap Webinar Slide Deck (Full)
Next Steps

Throughout Summer 2020 Royce will continue to work with the materials community, IOP and IfM to refine the four roadmap documents with a view to publishing the final versions in September 2020.

We are keen for the ‘Materials for the Energy Transition’ roadmapping to be a collaborative activity for the materials community, both industry and academic. If you would like to input into the ongoing roadmapping process please contact