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Oriel Environmental Group hosts Hugo Spowers MBE on 16 November

The Oriel Environmental Group (OEG) is proud to be hosting Hugo Spowers MBE on Thursday 16 November. The public lecture is the first to be held by the committee that is made up of leading academics and graduate students based at Oriel College and working in the fields of energy and environmental research.

Hugo is the founder of a car manufacturer called Riversimple and aimed at pioneering the next generation of zero emission vehicles. He also has a leading role, as Chief Engineer, in developing a new car architecture to harness hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Unlike vehicles with combustion engines, Riversimple’s flagship hydrogen-powered car, the Rasa, does not produce any carbon dioxide emissions from an exhaust. Instead its only “tailpipe emissions” are droplets of water. What is more, refilling a hydrogen fuel cell can be done in a matter of minutes.

Hugo is clear that a change in business model is as urgent as a change in technology and advocates for a circular “usership” model. Under his directive, Riversimple is aligning itself with what he sees are the needs of the 21st century.

Customers at Riversimple do not purchase their cars. Instead they make monthly subscription payments that cover all costs, including running costs such as fuel, maintenance and road tax.

This circular model is designed to align the interests of the company with those of customers and the planet because the more efficient and sustainable the vehicles are, the more profitable the company.

The OEG was formed as an advisory body aimed at supporting College as it searches for the best ways to meet its ambitious sustainability targets.

Jamie Linsley-Parrish, Secretary of the OEG and a DPhil candidate in Geography and the Environment, said the goal is to establish Oriel College as a “leader and partner in environmental activities across the University of Oxford and beyond.”

“Hugo’s work overlaps with the research of several members of Oriel’s research community. The talk provides a unique opportunity for academia and industry to meet,” he added.

Members of the OEG include Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Professor Charlie Wilson and Dr Constance L McDermott  — all Jackson Senior Research Fellows of Oriel College — and also Dr Phil Grünewald.

They are also joined by Professor Nick Eyre, a Supernumerary Research Fellow of Oriel College and one of the first researchers in the UK cognisant to the need for decarbonising energy systems and mitigating carbon dioxide emissions.

Hugo’s talk is free to attend and everyone is welcome but do book your place.