A new initiative, opened yesterday by Science and Universities Minister, David Willetts, promises to revolutionise the way energy is generated, distributed and stored, by supporting R&D projects focused on bringing energy generation and supply down to a local level.
Through a funding competition to help UK companies exploit this rapidly developing market, up to £11m will be made available to fund innovative ideas for the development of localised energy systems. The idea is to encourage the development of ways to provide energy at a scale from clusters of buildings up to whole districts.
Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts said:
"Energy and its storage is one of the eight great technologies of the future where the UK has world leading research and the potential to seize a significant share of growing global markets.
"This funding will enable innovative companies to bring their ideas into reality. This will help the UK to move to a low-carbon economy, drive growth and get ahead in the global race."
Jointly funded by the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) , this competition for collaborative R&D funding will allow businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors.
CEO of the Technology Strategy Board, Iain Gray said:
"The development of localised energy systems is an important part of what will be a complex mix of technologies for generating, transmitting, distributing and storing energy, as we continue the transition to a low carbon economy in the coming decades.
"This funding competition is therefore critical, not only in developing the individual technologies, but also in developing solutions to how technologies are integrated to deliver robust, flexible and cost-effective systems."
Professor David Delpy, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said:
"This competition builds on the strong research base we have helped to develop in energy. It will draw in expertise from across disciplines and gives our leading academics the chance to engage across a number of different industry sectors. The research community is addressing the challenges of energy use and this competition provides an opportunity for that research to be drawn through to cross-cutting innovations that will cut costs, emissions and improve efficiency. "
With the market for smart energy systems to UK companies estimated to be worth £3-5bn by 2020, this opportunity will allow businesses (with academic partners where required) to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors, including:
integrating renewable energy supplies in places of high demand to reduce the need to reinforce the national grid
balancing energy supply and demand
integrating electric vehicle or easy charging systems into buildings