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Energy Transition Theme

We are excited to announce the launch of the Geological Society’s Energy Transition Theme, write Nick Gardiner (Lead, Energy Transition Theme) and Alex Whittaker (Chair, Science Committee)

1 March 2021

Geological knowledge informs energy projects such as Krafla Geothermal Power Plant, Iceland

The shift to a low/neutral carbon economy, which is essential to tackle climate change, is now a pressing international effort. November 2021 marks the UK-co-hosted United Nations Climate Change summit (COP26), which is expected to drive new international agreements for decarbonisation.

Geosciences will play a pivotal role in enabling the increasingly urgent energy transition. Earth resource stewardship will also be critical to the development of circular economies, reducing waste and environmental impact, driving innovation, and supporting business. Geological solutions will underpin responsible resource and waste management, new innovative technologies for both storage (H and He) and capture (CO2, radioactive waste), and geothermal energy production. Geological knowledge will allow the sourcing of essential raw materials, in particular critical metal resources, to support new technologies in energy storage and transmission, transportation, construction, and engineering.

Geoscientists are therefore uniquely placed to support policy makers, stakeholders and industry in the management of Earth resources that are fundamental to the energy transition. The Society’s Energy Transition Theme will champion this goal, support communication between academia, business, government and public communities, and aim to inspire a new generation of geoscientists.

The decarbonisation of humankind’s lifestyle is arguably the most difficult and uniquely global activity ever attempted, and the Energy Transition it will require is therefore both fundamental and a truly global challenge.


I am delighted that Nick Gardiner of the University of St Andrews is going to lead this new Theme that the Society will engage with over the coming years.


The multidisciplinary and integrated nature of the Energy Transition will need to include all our Specialist Groups and most academic disciplines of the Earth Sciences if it is to be successful and useful to industry, society and government. I encourage you to get involved and engage with Nick in this forward-looking and truly big and difficult issue.

Mike Daly, President, The Geological Society of London


Energy Transition Theme events and activities
A number of events and activities are planned for 2021-22, to support and align with the Energy Transition Theme.

2021 Webinar Series:

  • 13 April (13.00-16.30) Geosciences and the Energy Transition: How can the Geosciences contribute to the Energy Transition?
  • 7-8 June (13.00-16.30) Geosciences and the Energy Transition: Energy Transfer, Injection and Storage
  • 6-7 September (provisional) Geosciences and the Energy Transition: Mineral Supplies on a Finite Planet

These seminars are being coordinated by Prof. Jon Gluyas (Durham University), Prof. Stuart Haszeldine OBE (University of Edinburgh), Prof. Rob Knipe (University of Leeds), Dr David Reiner (University of Cambridge), Prof. Frances Wall (University of Exeter), Jo Coleman OBE (Shell), Dr Nick Gardiner (University of St Andrews and Theme Leader), Dr Jen Roberts (University of Strathclyde) and Prof. Mike Stephenson (British Geological Survey).

Hydrogen Storage in Caverns Meeting (12 April 2021, virtual event)
This meeting is being organised in collaboration with Energy Research Accelerator. If you would like to contribute, participate or help shape how the event might proceed, please email Seamus.Garvey@nottingham.ac.uk or mhste@bgs.ac.uk with the title ‘About Hydrogen storage in caverns meeting’. For more information visit: www.geolsoc.org.uk/Hydrogen-Storage-in-Caverns

Energy Transition Discussion Meeting (April 2022)
A multi-day conference in Burlington House, London, in April 2022 will bring together geoscientists, the energy transition communities, and policymakers, with an aim of assessing the on-going directions and priority roles for the geosciences in the energy transition, following the COP26 meeting.

Decarbonisation Working Group
The Decarbonisation Working Group, chaired by Prof. Mike Stephenson, continues to work on key issues at the interface of geoscience and public policy, developing resources and initiatives to highlight and communicate key enabling decarbonisation technologies to policymakers and the wider public. More information about their work can be found at www.geolsoc.org.uk/Policy-and-Media/issues/decarbonisation/working-group

Special issue of ES3: Earth Sciences and the Race to Net Zero
The Geological Society’s new OA journal, Earth Science, Systems and Society (ES3, see page 10) will publish a special issue on the theme of Earth Sciences and the Race to Net Zero. Submissions are welcomed on all aspects of this topic: www.escubed.org/research-topics/2/earth-sciences-and-the-race-to-net-zero

In addition, a number of outreach events will be planned throughout 2021 and 2022 aligned with the theme.

Further information can be found at www.geolsoc.org.uk/ET www.geolsoc.org.uk/events


Dr Nick Gardiner, University of St Andrews and Lead, Energy Transition Theme

Dr Alex Whittaker, Imperial College London and Chair, Science Committee


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