Hydrogen power pioneer takes top environment award

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THE chief executive of a business at the forefront of pioneering hydrogen technology was revealed as the winner of the green champion award at the fourth annual Yorkshire Post Environment Awards.

Graham Cooley, of ITM Power, picked up the coveted accolade, which is sponsored by the Yorkshire Post, and awarded to an individual who leads the environmental agenda.

All the winners were revealed at a glittering awards ceremony at The Queens Hotel in Leeds, with Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, giving the keynote address.

She paid tribute to the “thousands of people in hundreds of companies, turning over hundreds of millions of pounds, putting Yorkshire on the map in this new, clean economy”.

The awards highlighted the major green advances being made in the region by businesses, social enterprises, schools, community groups and individuals.

Dr Cooley’s Sheffield-based firm ITM Power turns unreliable renewable wind and solar power into hydrogen gas using electrolyser technology, which creates on-demand clean fuel for cars, cooking, heating and welding.

He told the audience that the technology has “huge potential” in a world where energy is the largest market.

ITM Power has won crucial approval to sell its products in Europe.

Dr Cooley spoke about the possibility of people making their own hydrogen on site and at home using renewable power, and highlighted the importance of the UK acting as a supplier of renewable technology to the rest of the world.

Caroline Flint told the audience the move to a low-carbon economy can act as “a major source of wealth and employment”.

Journalist, author and TV presenter Lucy Siegle hosted the awards ceremony, while the audience also heard from Joanne Pollard, chief executive of Leeds-based not-for-profit organisation CO2Sense, the main sponsor of this year’s event. Miss Siegle is a roving reporter covering green issues for BBC’s The One Show and a columnist for the Observer.

Other sponsors included Grant Thornton, Banks Renewables, Northern Gas Networks, Yorkshire Water, Dickinson Dees and Asda.

A full list of winners – with pictures from the night – will appear in a special supplement to Tuesday’s Yorkshire Post.