Tell us a bit about your business. When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?
Cenex was established in 2005 as the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies. Today we employ almost 40 people spread across offices in the UK, Netherlands, and South Korea.
What does the business do?
Cenex lowers emissions through innovation in transport and energy infrastructure. We operate as an independent, not-for-profit research technology organisation and consultancy, specialising in the project delivery, innovation support and market development to accelerate the transition to net zero. Cenex is currently partnered in a broad range of R&D projects in areas including Electric Vehicle (EV) ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’ where EVs can be used to store and release electrical energy for building energy management or grid balancing services, as well as wireless charging of EVs and monitoring the performance of hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles across Europe. Cenex is also working with a number of local authorities on strategies for EV charging infrastructure roll out, as well as planning for our upcoming Cenex-LCV and Cenex-CAM events.
How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?
The outlook for the year ahead was positive until the coronavirus pandemic hit and lockdown policies began to impact our sponsors and customers. The picture currently is mixed, however we have many projects that are not overly disrupted and a lot of requests coming in for our support. We are seeing strong interest from the low carbon and connected automated mobility communities in our Cenex-LCV and Cenex-CAM events. The move from September to November has been well received and there is a recognition that the events offer unique technology showcasing and networking opportunities that extend beyond what can be done via Teams or Zoom meetings, particularly when it comes to making new contacts.
The outlook medium- to long-term is much more optimistic. The areas we work in, such as e-mobility, hydrogen, connected mobility, are all fundamentally growing so there’s growth within these sectors driven by policy and demand for net zero, along with jobs and economic growth linked to the supply of products and services that support a ultra-low to zero carbon economy.
What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?
The consensus building around net zero targets fills us with a lot of positivity. It shows an awareness of the challenges and willingness to accept the necessary changes. The availability of zero tailpipe emission vehicles, whether battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell, are cause for optimism, as is the rapid transition to renewables. These twin trends mean road transport can be zero emission and powered by clean low carbon energy. We can also see the pathways to safer road transport with the emergence of connected and automated mobility. We see Cenex’ role as assisting organisations to plan for and implement strategies for decarbonising road transport. As we work primarily with first movers and early adopters, we seek to advise both on what is possible today, whilst also taking our learning from research projects to advise customers on timescales for introduction of new technologies and where they can offer differential advantages.
Attention is currently focusing on the role hydrogen can play in deep decarbonisation of the UK energy system. The recent Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommendations covered hydrogen use for power generation and for heat, as well as for transport, looking out to 2050. Cenex welcomed the CCC recommendation for small-scale trial deployments of hydrogen Heavy Goods Vehicles in the UK in the 2020s, as well as the CCC affirmation that current pilot trials of hydrogen cars and vans, such as those Cenex is supporting, are essential to demonstrate the practicalities of switching to hydrogen.
Robert Evans, CEO, Cenex