Greenhouse Pioneer: Graham Cooley, ITM Power

Diesel-gate, air pollution, the renewable revolution – clean energy and sustainable transport have scarcely enjoyed so much press coverage. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power – a company pioneering hydrogen energy storage and fuel cell technology – aims to transform both the energy and transport sectors as they undergo perhaps the most radical step-change in history.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about ITM Power – what’s your mission?

To store renewable energy by producing hydrogen for use in the gas-grid as renewable heat or to replace fossil fuels.

What drives you?

At ITM Power we are in the process of replacing petrol and diesel with a totally clean and renewable fuel, hydrogen. We also have the lowest cost solution to renewable energy storage. I can’t think of a worthier objective; clean air, zero carbon transport and energy and the world free from the politics of oil and gas. These objectives drive me, every day!

What is your greatest achievement to date?

We have achieved a huge amount at ITM Power. The achievements are not mine, they are the product of an incredibly enthusiastic team. We worked with Shell to install the first electrolytic hydrogen refuelling station on a petrol forecourt in the UK, a massive achievement. We built the first power-to-gas rapid response energy storage plant in Germany with the Thuega group and are building the first one in the UK with National Grid and Northern Gas Networks. Apart from these our greatest achievements are certainly still to come.

What are the challenges you face?

Oil and gas is a huge and powerful international industry. Change is certainly starting with some of the more enlightened majors but the road ahead will require the development of some great partnerships and a lot of stamina. But the prize is huge!

Hydrogen car refuelling - ITM Power

What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

In the area of fuel, we are building more forecourt refuelling stations and a new bus refuelling station and are now developing projects for hydrogen buses, haulage vehicles, ships and trains. The market is moving incredibly quickly, it’s a very exciting time for the hydrogen industry!

Where do you want to take ITM Power next?

ITM Power has the potential to become a huge energy company supplying equipment to global OEMs and EPC contractors. The hydrogen economy is exactly that; a whole economy.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

The “difference” is always made by individuals, real people with enthusiasm and drive. We can be inventors, entrepreneurs, early adopters or voices of support. Never before has the world been so accessible to individual action. Try tweeting ITM Power’s next announcement at your local MP!

How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

We are a very dedicated and hardworking company. I like to think that our enthusiasm is infectious and that as we achieve our goals more people will believe in our mission.

Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?

I tend to listen to music rather than read books, when I do I read poetry. I’d recommend Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist, published 1966. Perhaps they could also listen to a good Bob Dylan Album; try “Highway 61 Revisited”.

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

I’ve been a music lover all my life, I collected vinyl but now concentrate on CDs. I also love cooking. The last meal I cooked was today, with my daughter, we listened to “A Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis (with Bill Evans and John Coltrane).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Get on with it; just get started; stop making excuses”

Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?

There hasn’t been one yet; we’ve got some massive problems to solve and desperately need some global political leadership. The eco hero position is, very sadly, still vacant in my view!

We’ve worked alongside some inspiring change-makers in the transport and energy industry, including CNG Fuels, Riversimple and Moixa. To hear from some of the UK’s leading clean transport and energy pioneers, such as Stephen Irish, co-founder of Hyperdrive Innovation, visit our Pioneer blog series. To find out more information about ITM Power, please visit: